New Budget Process

Fiercehomelandsecurity is reporting that the Department (DHS) is initiating a new budget process, that would make it more top down.

DHS is building a process where it will define its mission and objectives, then determine what resources it needs and look across components to avoid overlaps and inefficiencies.

“My impression is that the DHS budget process is too stovepiped,” Johnson told the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, during a March 11 hearing.

Johnson, a former general counsel for the Defense Department who took over at DHS in December, said he used the DoD budget process as a model.

Perhaps this is what is needed to make the Department a bit more coherent in its approach to its missions. Perhaps it would be too much to hope for, but perhaps the Department will see that Customs’ Aviation and Marine units largely unnecessarily duplicate Coast Guard assets.

I don’t have any problem with the Department defining mission and objectives or eliminating  overlaps and inefficiencies. I do think they might be out of their depth in determining what resources it needs.

The new Secretary comes from the DOD and looks to their process as a model, but DOD is not necessarily the most efficient of organizations. DOD staff over and above the armed services themselves, is grossly inflated and part of the reason is that there is a lot of second guessing of the services expertise by an ever growing civilian bureaucracy, a model DHS cannot afford to duplicate.

8 thoughts on “New Budget Process

  1. There is historical precedent for worry about a DoD guy taking over and bringing baggage with him.

    Most may recall that John C. Spencer (the namesake for several cutters) was the Secretary of War before taking control of the Treasury Department in 1843. He too was was appalled at the condition of the Revenue Cutter Service. He wanted greater efficiency. What he did was to drag the Navy Department’s bureau system into the Treasury Department. This is how the term “Revenue Marine Bureau” came to be. Since 1843, the term has been widely misused and misunderstood. It was a bureau, not service.

    Spencer was not unlike present era political appointees and brought in political favorites to run the bureaus. For the revenue cutters, he gave the Revenue Marine Bureau to Captain Angus Fraser who was neither that experienced nor suited to the work. Fraser had far too many political ties to New York City and its political backers. Fraser’s level of experience as a revenue cutter officer was small. He had been a captain for only two years and nearly all of that had been in New York City. In addition, his personality did not make him someone to look to for leadership. This is one reason his crew and officers deserted him in California.

    The largest example of his type of leadership was the construction of the steam vessels based on untested technology and models. This was the Coast Guard’s first “Deepwater’ and like that program the steamers failed to perform for the same reasons. The 1840s steamer failure caused the Treasury Department to fall back to sail only vessels even though sail was rapidly becoming obsolete in the commercial marine.

    Spencer spent about a year in office and then abandoned the revenue cutters to the revolving door of succeeding secretaries where things only go worse for the revenue cutter officers and vessels.

    Sometimes history does repeat.

  2. This is funny. The current DHS missions don’t include marine safety. What does that mean for a big chunk of the USCG?

  3. DHS already adds a Department-level duplication of beauracracy to everything. Somewhere on the Dept’s website (I downloaded it on a different device), they have a .pdf file of their table of organization. Separate R&D, separate legal, separate congressional-relations, and a bunch more.

    At least when DOD was formed, a tiny bit of the separate Dept. of War (Army & Army Air Corps) and Dept. of Navy was reduced and some duplicitous parts of a new Dept of Air Force were prevented.

    DHS is almost purely bureaucratic expansion. All the agencies (except TSA) were already in a dept… If a benefit could come from DHS being a dept., it would be mission-focus, but no one seemingly wants to do such a reorganization for fear of losing money, manpower, and authority/power/prestige.

    • The Department of Transportation also had duplication. The Coast Guard should be used to it. I recall one year DoT stripped about 80 million or so from the Coast Guard’s budget to build its own Civil Rights Division. A division from which the Coast Guard derived no benefit.

      • [Tongue-in-cheek] Now Bill, you must be joking! There were some edicts which came down about nondiscrimination. [/]

        Was that in the early 70s? I seem to recall a spike in the influx of females to the service then. (Of course, that also coincides with the feminist movement in general, so maybe no correlation. )

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