Homeland Security Brain Drain?
The Department of Homeland Security is suffering the effects of a brain drain, reports USA Today‘s Mimi Hall. To even casual observers of DHS, the obvious rejoinder is that the key prerequisite for a brain drain was never established.
Regardless, the key vacancies include “top leaders in the department’s cyber-security, technology and disaster response divisions.” The problem, apparently, is that people with the skill sets to do those jobs can typically command much more money in the private sector. Plus, as Randall Larsen of the Institute for Homeland Security wonders, “Who’s going to give up a good job in the private sector to go into an organization that is criticized by the press and Congress and the American people?”
The obvious answer is to promote from within, a possibility not even addressed within the article. The very nature of a bureaucracy that it is a hierarchy where people move up a career ladder and receive periodic training and education. Indeed, every other department of government operates under the same salary restrictions as DHS and many of them nonetheless manage to attract and retain top-notch people.
The military and the judiciary are obvious examples. People endure incredible public scrutiny to become federal judges at salaries lower than attorneys at D.C.’s top law firms command right out of school. Less glamorously, the military manages to keep people around despite frequent uncontestable assignments to undesirable locations where people are trying to kill them. And DHS hardly requires more technical savvy than NSA or NASA.