The Washington Post

A progress report on Homeland Security’s leadership vacancies


Poor worker morale has plagued the Department of Homeland Security for years, but good-government experts say conditions would improve if the Obama administration fills the many leadership vacancies within the organization.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has promised to help President Obama find nominees for the open slots since taking office in December. At that point, the White House still had not named permanent leaders for 18 of DHS’s top 48 positions — they were either vacant or filled by acting officials.

Here’s where things stand since then:

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Obama has chosen three nominees for Homeland Security roles since Johnson’s confirmation. The selections include:

*Health and Human Services civil rights director Leon Rodriguez to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

* Defense Department research official Reggie Brothers to become undersecretary for science and technology.

* Former Air Force officer and U.S. counterterrorism coordinator Francis X. Taylor to become undersecretary for intelligence and analysis.

(Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Francis X. Taylor as the former chief executive of a hedge-fund firm that filed for bankruptcy in October. Francis Taylor had no connection with that company, FX Concepts, whose former CEO was John Taylor).

Obama has named no additional DHS nominees since Johnson took office, but the Senate plays a partial role in allowing of the remaining gaps to linger. Six of the president’s picks dating back to last summer are still pending confirmation.

Aside from Brothers, Taylor and Rodriguez, the other nominees awaiting a vote include: former drug czar Gil Kerlikowske for head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Food and Drug official John Roth for DHS inspector general; and Suzanne Spaulding for undersecretary of DHS’s national protection and programs directorate, where she is currently the deputy undersecretary.

A dozen vacancies would still remain if the Senate approves all of those nominees.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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