Friday, February 20, 2015

If Morale’s So Bad, Let's Study It Until It Gets Better‏

DHS tackles endless morale problems with seemingly endless studies

By Jerry Markon, The Washington Post

Afflicted with the lowest morale of any large federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security did what comes naturally to many in government.

It decided to study the problem. And then study it some more.

The first study cost about $1 million. When it was finished, it was put in a drawer. The next one cost less but duplicated the first. It also ended up in a drawer.

So last year, still stumped about why the employees charged with safeguarding Americans are so unhappy, the department commissioned two more studies.

Now, with the nation continuing to face threats to the homeland, some officials who have worked inside the agency acknowledge it should spend less time studying its internal problems and more energy trying to fix them.

“There’s really no excuse for the department expending finite resources on multiple studies, some at the same time, to tell the department pretty much what everyone has concluded: that there are four-to-five things that need to be done for morale,” said Chris Cummiskey, who left DHS in November after serving as its third-highest-ranking official. “You don’t need $2 million worth of studies to figure that out.”

Cummiskey added that DHS Secretary Jeh C. Johnson “understands this and is focused on delivering meaningful results for DHS employees.”

Since taking over the department in late 2013, Johnson has focused on raising morale and stemming high turnover, problems that date to the George W. Bush administration. Many DHS employees have said in the annual government “viewpoint” survey of federal employees that their senior leaders are ineffective; that the department discourages innovation, and that promotions and raises are not based on merit. Others have described in interviews how a stifling bureaucracy and relentless congressional criticism makes DHS an exhausting, even infuriating, place to work.

Many of the frustrations stem from the way DHS was created, with 22 agencies from across the government urgently welded into one department after the 9/11 attacks. Employees today say those agencies still have clashing cultures and are subject to Byzantine congressional oversight, with more than 90 committees and subcommittees retaining some jurisdiction.

Johnson and Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas have “personally committed themselves to improving the morale and workforce satisfaction across the Department of Homeland Security,” said Ginette Magana, a DHS spokeswoman. “They are directly engaging with employees, listening to their concerns, working diligently to improve employee recognition and training, and are focused on strengthening the skills and abilities of every employee. She said the studies “comprise a first step in a comprehensive process dedicated to tangible results.”

At the same time, the department has continued to pay for even more outside reports.

“It’s a big problem, not just at DHS but across the government,” said Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit group that seeks to make government more effective. “You see study, study, study and no execution or fulfilling of the recommendations.”

Stier’s group contributed to one of the most recent DHS studies, a $420,000 analysis completed late last year by the consulting firm Deloitte. But Stier said his help came with a caution. “It’s time to get moving,” he recalled telling department officials, “and not simply study the issue.”

‘We just hid it’

Three years ago, officials in the department’s office of health affairs, which provides expertise on national security medical issues, began to wonder about the health of one of their own programs. In response to low scores on the viewpoint survey, officials had set up a program, DHSTogether, aimed at making DHS “one of the best places to work in the Federal government.” But it wasn’t working out.

So the department tapped the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, to find out why.

A committee of 11 experts visited about 25 DHS locations in Texas, New York and the Washington area. It produced a 268-page report under a contract, which allocated $588,000 for the work. About $500,000 in additional funds for the study came out of another line item in the contract, according to contracting documents and a source familiar with them.

The result: virtually nothing.

“It was not a very good light to shine on any of us, so we just hid it,” said one DHS employee familiar with the report, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation by supervisors.

The report, released in September 2013, concluded that DHSTogether had been starved of money and support from DHS leaders and devolved into little more than an ineffective suicide prevention program. The document made a series of recommendations to improve employee resilience and morale, calling it “imperative that senior leaders at DHS” get more involved.

One of those leaders was Rafael Borras, who had just taken over as acting deputy secretary, the department’s No. 2 post. “I’ve never seen it, never heard of it, didn’t know they were doing it,” he recalled. “At no time did anyone raise with me, ‘Oh, remember this study we did?’ ”

A DHS official said the department has taken several steps in response to the institute’s study. These include setting up a leadership council, embarking on further research to measure employee resilience, and drafting a five-year strategic plan for DHS workforce “readiness and resilience,” as the study had urged.

When a congressional committee asked a year ago about what had come of the institute’s study, DHS officials also cited the five-year plan, saying it would be presented to senior managers by May 2014.

Nearly a year later, that strategic plan remains merely a draft in DHS’s computer system. A copy of a draft, obtained by The Washington Post, contains phrases such as “add introduction,” “add conclusion” and “insert photos.”

“There is no plan,” said one DHS employee. “It just sat there and sat there and it sits today. We are clearly just running around doing studies, getting recommendations and not taking them.”

Overlapping surveys

The same month in 2012 that department officials signed the contract with the Institute of Medicine, they commissioned someone else to study virtually the same issues. DHS’s office of health affairs awarded a $250,000 contract to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., to examine the DHSTogether program and the mental well-being of employees.

Though the contract has been extended twice, people familiar with it said the center produced nothing more than a short draft in August.

The draft offers an explanation for why the center had not made more progress. “Other entities had already engaged employees in efforts to assess morale,” it said, and as a result, DHS employees were developing “interview/survey fatigue.”

The document continued, “Several other studies with significant overlap to CSTS’s work efforts were underway at the same time.”

A department spokeswoman said the center’s study is also expected to produce other steps, including employee resilience training and a briefing to senior DHS leadership.

DHS employees say the draft itself has been ignored inside the department.

Even more studies

Over the last year, the department’s concern with morale has intensified. The 2014 Best Places To Work in the Federal Government Survey, published by Stier’s group, ranked DHS dead last among large agencies.

And the department has launched two more studies.

The Deloitte analysis, which focused on “employee engagement,” was finished late last year.

People familiar with the contract said Deloitte focused on the Senior Executive Service — the government’s top career managers — who have been leaving DHS at a high rate in recent years.

Deloitte delivered a set of recommendations to DHS leaders late last year. A spokeswoman for the firm referred questions to DHS. A DHS spokeswoman said the firm’s work built on the previous studies and had produced an “implementation plan,” but declined to elaborate.

Just as Deloitte was completing its report, Fairfax-based professional services firm ICF was starting a separate morale study of the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, the department’s research and development arm, according to interviews and agency documents.

An internal e-mail, sent to the directorate’s employees in December, described the $250,000 study as a “follow-up survey” to the annual viewpoint survey. For the past several years, the science and technology directorate has ranked especially low, even compared with other parts of DHS.

Dozens of directorate employees have been interviewed about their morale by ICF as part of an effort, as described by another internal e-mail, to “identify and prioritize those areas where S&T can undertake corrective action by engaging directly with S&T federal employees.”

After the study is done, that e-mail added, ICF will follow up on the results — with another study.

Ben Ferro

Monday, February 16, 2015

What If They (20 Million Illegals) Left The U.S.?

The following is an excerpt from an article of interest which recently came to our attention. It was written by Tina Griego, who was a journalist for the Denver Rocky Mountain News and wrote a column titled, "Mexican visitor's lament". While cannot say with certainty that all of the numbers cited in this article are 100% accurate, they do, based on our research seem reasonable and credible. If nothing else, the information expressed in this article is certainly thought provoking, especially in light of the current administration’s decision to allow these people to remain in this country.

Ben Ferro


Tina Griego interviewed Mexican journalist Evangelina Hernandez while visiting Denver last week. Hernandez said, "They (illegal aliens) pay rent, buy groceries, buy clothes...what happens to your country's economy if 20 million people go away?"

That's a good question – it deserves an answer. Over 80 percent of Americans demand secured borders and illegal migration stopped. But what would happen if all 20 million or more vacated America? The answers may surprise you!

In California, if 3.5 million illegal aliens moved back to Mexico, it would leave an extra $10.2 billion to spend on overloaded school systems, bankrupted hospitals and overrun prisons. It would leave highways cleaner, safer and less congested. Everyone could understand one another as English became the dominate language again.

In Colorado, 500,000 illegal migrants, plus their 300,000 kids and grand-kids – would move back "home," mostly to Mexico. That would save Coloradans an estimated $2 billion (other experts say $7 BIL) annually in taxes that pay for schooling, medical, social-services and incarceration costs. It means 12,000 gang members would vanish out of Denver alone.

Colorado would save more than $20 million in prison costs, and the terror that those 7,300 alien criminals set upon local citizens. Denver Officer Don Young and hundreds of Colorado victims would not have suffered death, accidents, rapes and other crimes by illegals.

Denver Public Schools would not suffer a 67 percent drop out/flunk out rate via thousands of illegal alien students speaking 41 different languages. At least 200,000 vehicles would vanish from our gridlocked cities in Colorado. Denver's four percent unemployment rate would vanish as our working poor would gain jobs at a living wage.

In Florida, 1.5 million illegals would return the Sunshine State back to America, the rule of law and English.

In Chicago, Illinois, 2.1 million illegals would free up hospitals, schools, prisons and highways for a safer, cleaner and more crime-free experience.

If 20 million illegal aliens returned "home," the U.S. economy would return to the rule of law. Employers would hire legal American citizens at a living wage. Everyone would pay their fair share of taxes because they wouldn't be working off the books. That would result in an additional $401 billion in IRS income taxes collected annually, and an equal amount for local state and city coffers.

No more push '1' for Spanish or '2' for English. No more confusion in American schools that now must content with over 100 languages that degrade the educational system for American kids. Our overcrowded schools would lose more than two million illegal alien kids at a cost of billions in ESL and free breakfasts and lunches.

We would lose 500,000 illegal criminal alien inmates at a cost of more than $1.6 billion annually. That includes 15,000 MS-13 gang members who distribute $130 billion in drugs annually would vacate our country. In cities like L.A., 20,000 members of the "18th Street Gang" would vanish from our nation. No more Mexican forgery gangs for ID theft from Americans! No more foreign rapists and child molesters!

Losing more than 20 million people would clear up our crowded highways and gridlock. Cleaner air and less drinking and driving American deaths by illegal aliens!

Over $80 billion annually wouldn't return to their home countries by cash transfers. Illegal migrants earned half that money untaxed, which further drains America's economy – which currently suffers an $8.7 trillion debt.

At least 400,000 anchor babies would not be born in our country, costing us $109 billion per year per cycle. At least 86 hospitals in California, Georgia and Florida would still be operating instead of being bankrupted out of existence because illegals pay nothing via the EMTOLA Act. Americans wouldn't suffer thousands of TB and hepatitis cases rampant in our country—brought in by illegals unscreened at our borders.

Our cities would see 20 million less people driving, polluting and grid locking our cities. It would also put the "progressives" on the horns of a dilemma; illegal aliens and their families cause 11 percent of our greenhouse gases.

Over one million of Mexico’s poorest citizens now live inside and along our border from Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California in what the New York Times called, “colonias” or new neighborhoods. Trouble is, those living areas resemble Bombay and Calcutta where grinding poverty, filth, diseases, drugs, crimes, no sanitation and worse. They live without sewage, clean water, streets, electricity, roads or any kind of sanitation. 

The New York Times reported them to be America’s new “Third World” inside our own country. Within 20 years, at their current growth rate, they expect 20 million residents of those colonias. (I’ve seen them personally in Texas and Arizona; it’s sickening beyond anything you can imagine.) By enforcing our laws, we could repatriate them back to Mexico.

We invite 20 million aliens to go home, fix their own countries and/or make a better life in Mexico. We invite a million people into our country legally more than all other countries combined annually. We cannot and must not allow anarchy at our borders, more anarchy within our borders and growing lawlessness at every level in our nation.

It’s time to stand up for our country, our culture, our civilization and our way of life.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Apparently, now, just as in Retail, the (Illegal) customer is always right!

Homeland Security Sets Up Obama Amnesty Complaint Hotlines For Illegals

Memos say agencies want to know if federal officials violate ‘new DHS enforcement priorities’

By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Homeland Security Department has set up hotlines for illegal immigrants who believe their rights under President Obama’s amnesty policy have been violated.

In a memo announcing the customer complaint line, U.S. Customs and Border Protection asked illegal immigrants to “please tell us about your experience” if they believe they were treated “contrary to the new DHS enforcement priorities.”

The department alerted “stakeholders” last week of three complaint hotlines: one for CBP, which oversees the Border Patrol; one for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles immigration laws in the nation’s interior; and one for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is poised to handle the millions of amnesty applications expected to be filed.

The amnesty policy grants tentative legal status to up to 4 million illegal immigrants and orders Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents not to arrest other illegal immigrants who say they have been hiding in the U.S. for years but don’t meet the criteria for full amnesty.

Border Patrol agents said the complaint lines amount to a slap in the face to those who put their lives on the line to enforce the law.

“Instead of supporting our agents, this administration has decided it is more important to find new ways to solicit complaints and invite ridicule against them,” said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union that represents line agents. “We demand that this administration spend more time defending the men and women defending our nation and less time promoting the extreme agendas of pro-illegal-immigration organizations.”

He said he would like the Homeland Security Department to set up a complaint line for agents instead, so they could register their concerns over the administration’s failure to enforce laws involving their own pay, the disparity in the firepower they bring to the fight with drug cartels and the administration’s “failure to fully enforce our immigration laws.”

Immigrant rights advocates, meanwhile, are torn over whether complaints have proved effective. Some say they are useful, but others say they rarely produce results and question the department’s ability to investigate complaints against itself.

The Homeland Security Department and CBP issued memos detailing the customer complaint lines last week. CBP’s notice included this invitation: “If you believe you (or a family member) were apprehended and processed by a Customs and Border Protection officer or Border Patrol agent contrary to the new DHS enforcement priorities, please tell us about your experience by contacting the CBP INFO Center.”

The Homeland Security memo says it expects more “questions and feedback” from the amnesty and lists all three complaint lines.

The Obama administration has tried to walk a tight line, insisting it is boosting enforcement even as the president and his political appointees at the Homeland Security Department have carved an ever-widening circle of illegal immigrants for protection in order to appease their advocates.

In the past two years, Mr. Obama has tilted toward the advocates’ position, cutting deportations 20 percent from 2012 to 2014 even as illegal crossings of the U.S.-Mexico border have increased.

In November, Mr. Obama announced an amnesty for illegal immigrant parents whose children are American citizens or legal permanent residents, granting them legal status for three years and work permits entitling them to compete for jobs. He also expanded a 2012 amnesty for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

He also had top officials at the Homeland Security Department issue “guidance” ordering agents to generally ignore illegal immigrants who have hidden in the U.S. for some time or who claim other extenuating circumstances.

The guidance indicates that agents should not bother pursuing illegal immigrants who don’t have serious criminal records or aren’t recent illegal immigrants, meaning those who arrived in the U.S. since Jan. 1, 2014. Even immigrants convicted of domestic violence may not be “priorities” for deportation if they were also victims at some point.

The guidance has confused and angered immigration agents.

Mr. Moran, testifying to a Senate committee last week, said agents now have to go through a checklist when they encounter illegal immigrants. Those who give the right answers are likely to be released.

“The messaging on the training from CBP has been inconsistent at best,” he said.

Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said it sounded as though immigrants only had to say “magic words” to avoid arrest.

During the border surge this summer, Mr. Moran said, agents discovered that some of the illegal crossers had written scripts with them to coach them on what to say to be released into the U.S.

A Homeland Security spokeswoman said the hotline memo was intended to make sure stakeholders knew where to go for information.

“This provides one place for all stakeholders to find out more about the new DHS guidelines, deferred action, eligibility for new initiatives, or to register comment or complaint,” said Ginette Magana, the spokeswoman. “DHS continuously engages with stakeholders, members of Congress and interested individuals to provide the most up-to-date information and answer questions about any new initiatives.”

But the memos go further. The page providing the complaint hotline for Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, specifically invites complaints from immigrants who believe agents didn’t follow Mr. Obama’s priorities.

“The CBP Info Center (CIC) is a toll-free service for individuals with questions about CBP procedures or who wish to register a complaint about an encounter with CBP that they believe to be contrary to guidance,” the department says on the CBP page.

The CBP page says it has only “limited assistance” available in Spanish for those calling to complain, but the complaint hotline for ICE specifically says it can handle calls both Spanish and English.

Homeland Security has had complaint lines for some time, and Mr. Obama picked a fight with Congress over an advocacy office in ICE several years ago. Congress canceled funding for the job, so Mr. Obama changed the title but kept the same person doing the same work and argued that he met the letter of the law.

Ben Ferro

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Here's the Administration's latest answer to overcrowding in jails:

Release illegal aliens from jails and make room for US Citizens   
(If it wasn't true, it would be hilarious)

Ben Ferro

US Govt. Tells Agents To ID Immigrants Not To Deport

 By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has ordered federal agents to ask immigrants they encounter living in the U.S. illegally whether they might qualify under President Barack Obama's plans to avoid deporting them, according to internal training materials obtained by The Associated Press.

Agents also have been told to review government files to identify any jailed immigrants they might be able to release under the program.

The moves comes after Obama announced in November a program to allow roughly 4 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to apply for permission to stay in the country for up to three years and get a work permit. The program mirrors one announced in 2012 that provides protection from deportation for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

The new directives from the Homeland Security Department mark an unusual change for U.S. immigration enforcement, placing the obligation on the government for identifying immigrants who might qualify for lenient treatment. Previously, it was the responsibility of immigrants or their lawyers to assert that they might qualify under rules that could keep them out of jail and inside the United States.

The training materials apply to agents for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They instruct agents "to immediately begin identifying persons in their custody, as well as newly encountered persons" who may be eligible for protection from deportation.

One training document includes scenarios describing encounters between agents and immigrants with guidance about how agents should proceed, with a checklist of questions to determine whether immigrants might qualify under the president's plans. ICE officials earlier began releasing immigrants who qualified for leniency from federal immigration jails.

The head of Customs and Border Protection, Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said having his agents ask questions about whether an immigrant might qualify for leniency upfront saves time and money and "let's us use our resources, particularly the Border Patrol, for the people who are going to be at the highest level."

Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a vocal supporter of Obama's immigration plans, said having CBP officers screen immigrants out of the deportation line lets the government "move criminals and recent arrivals to the front of the deportation line. The emphasis now is on who should be deported first, not just who can be deported."

Under Obama's plans, the government is focused on deporting immigrants with serious criminal records or who otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. For the most part, under the new policy, immigrants whose only offense is being in the country without permission aren't supposed to be a priority for immigration officers.

While the administration has estimated that as many as 4 million people will be eligible for protection from deportation, the Congressional Budget Office estimated about 2 million to 2.5 million immigrants are expected to be approved for the program by 2017. As many as 1.7 million young immigrants were estimated to be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but since its 2012 creation only about 610,000 people have successfully signed up.


Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Has Obama administration undone all of the progress made at America’s southern border?

Former Border Patrol Deputy Chief: ‘All of the Good That Was Done after 9/11 Up to Now Has Been Reversed Singlehandedly’

By Ryan Lovelace

Former national deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol Ronald Colburn tells National Review Online that the Obama administration has undone all of the progress made at America’s southern border since 9/11.

“We’re back to a pre-9/11 situation basically, and this administration did that in the past five years,” he says. “All of the good that was done after 9/11 up to now has been reversed singlehandedly.”

Colburn, who spent more than 30 years working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says the resulting national-security risk has to do with the “clutter” of people at the border. He says all of the gains made since 9/11 came as a result of reducing the number of people crossing the border. The Border Patrol’s task is to sort through the haystack of people as they come across, he says. “What this situation on the border is doing is growing the haystack, is adding clutter, so that those dangerous needles get through because we’re tied up capturing, instead, juvenile children from Guatemala and El Salvador,” he says. “When you see the cartels — the Zetas and MS-13 and the Gulf Cartel — laughing about this on the Internet, you know what’s behind it.”

Colburn says the “gangsters down south” enjoy social media, taking selfies, and talking about one another online. Border Patrol officials monitor the cartels’ online communications along with officials from the Department of Defense and intelligence community, he says.

Originally published on

Ben Ferro