Launching the DHS “brand”

The Department of Homeland Security paid a consultant to design it a typeface and other frills, instead of — not in addition to — figuring out how to do its actual work.

Great! We now have an official Department of Homeland Security typeface and color scheme, but no actual organizational capacity to protect us from anything in particular.

Someone needs to tell the Bush Administration that “marketing” is a complement to actually doing the work, not a substitute for it. Of course, any idea started by Joe Lieberman and staffed out in a process run by Andy Card figured to be a disaster. And of course having five WH staff guys who don’t seem to have known anything about the actual operations of the agencies involved make key decisions didn’t help.

For example, the Gang of Five decided to move the Immigration and Naturalization Service, but not the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which housed the immigration judges, out of Justice and into DHS. Why? They didn’t know that there were officials called “immigration judges.” And of course they couldn’t ask any of the people who do the actual work of running the government, because the whole deal had to be kept secret from the rest of the Executive Branch so Tom Ridge and Andy Card could “bamboozle” the Cabinet secretaries by presenting them with a done deal.

Richard Clarke wanted to include a Department-level policy shop; as he said, that’s just Bureaucracy 101. But Mitch Daniels at OMB didn’t want to spend trivial amount of money that would have been needed to staff such a shop.

No, I’m not making this up. Read the damned story, complete with quotes from the people involved.

GWB isn’t stupid. But the Bush II Administration — except for its mastery of partisan politics, its capacity to keep the Republicans on the Hill in lockstep, and its brilliant media control — is an idiot studying to be a moron, and not studying nearly hard enough.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: