Are we seeing a pattern?

Please refer to my post of earlier in the week regarding fusion centers and the argument that they can’t be expected to have things like policies, standards or metrics because they’re just too darned busy.

Keep that in mind as you take a gander at this…

From the ACLU:

Today, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new report (PDF)…Some gems:

  • “The agency does not have documented standard processes to update training based on current information, such as the results of officer testing.” (Page 3)
  • “The agency also has not documented procedures to determine or allocate the equipment, support, and time needed for the workforce to complete training requirements, and provides little centralized oversight of the training program.” (Page 3)
  • “TSA did not establish a lead office to organize and coordinate [Transportation Security Officer] training until 2006…However, the OTT Division did not assume an active leadership role until 2009.” [law was passed in 2001]. (Page 3)
  • “According to a division official, OTT uses intelligence information, Aviation Security Assessment Program test results, covert testing results, and standard operating procedure changes to modify training, but it did not have a written procedure describing how to determine whether a training course needs to be modified.” (Page 4)
  • “Based on our interviews with TSOs and management personnel at the airports visited, TSA may not always provide TSOs with the equipment and support they need to effectively complete required training.” (Page 5)
  • And “TSA does not ensure that TSOs are provided the time they need to effectively complete training requirements.” (Page 7)
  • “One lead TSO indicated that he had not accessed the Online Learning Center since 2005. The TSO also explained that staff had limited time to read printed training materials in lieu of going online. Therefore, the staff is encouraged to simply sign off on the materials and receive credit for taking the courses without providing evidence of reading or understanding the information.

This is not only a TSA problem.  It infests the whole community and in many cases here you could cut and paste TSA and replace it with any one of a host of homeland security/intelligence/fusion agencies that have sprung up over the past decade.

Writing standards, developing training, establishing and tracking effectiveness aren’t sexy, don’t get people promoted and tend not to get assigned to those with the request skills to do an effective job at it.  You aren’t fast tracked on the career path for doing work like that.  You won’t be bringing in federal grant money for doing work like that.  In fact, it may be seen as only creating more liability for the agency.  After all, if you have no policies or standards you don’t have to worry about violating them, right?

As a result, they don’t get the attention or priority they deserve and we’re left with the Keystone Kop state.  This is one (of many) reasons why domestic intelligence work (in which I include counter-terrorism measures like those of the TSA as well as more traditional analytical work) remains in the minor leagues.  It doesn’t need to be that way.  It really just requires elected officials, regulatory agencies or the general public to stop accepting meaningless organizational speak as evidence of serious planning.  So, while the statement below is entirely a product of my fevered imagination it’s just this sort of gibberish that gets passed around as a substitute for real planning and direction.

We’re planning on leveraging new paradigms of total quality protocols in order to implement and utilize the latest in ‘all-crimes/all-hazards’ deliverables to facilitate the synergy of vertical and horizontal effects of intelligence and information sharing parameters so that going forward we can reduce incidents of touching the junk of all (alleged) non-terrorists.

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