Statement by Senator Tom Coburn on the Recent Washington Post Story about the Department of Homeland Security

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – A recent Washington Post article identified employee turnover and poor morale as challenges at the Department of Homeland Security that will prevent DHS from achieving its mission of securing the nation. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) reiterated his confidence in Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and urged patience in allowing the Secretary time to change the culture within the Department. 

“Few members of Congress have raised more questions about the Department and its programs than I have,” commented Dr. Coburn, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “But I have the utmost confidence in Secretary Jeh Johnson’s ability to lead and reform the Department. You cannot fix problems that have developed over many years overnight, and the Secretary deserves our patience as he works to change the culture at DHS.”

“Over the past year, we have seen positive steps at DHS, including efforts to strengthen management and coordination among the Department’s many components and offices. We have also seen Sec. Jeh Johnson take decisive actions to fix problems and curb waste within DHS, such as abusive overtime practices. Some of those decisions may be unpopular but they are the right thing to do,” Dr. Coburn continued. 

One of the challenges identified in the Washington Post report was vacancies in key leadership positions within DHS. Led by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senate has confirmed 9 key DHS nominations since Sec. Johnson’s confirmation. “With very few exceptions, our committee has supported the President’s nominations for DHS with broad, bipartisan support. We are working hard to give Secretary Johnson the senior leadership team he needs. Changing the culture within a bureaucracy is always a challenge and to do it successfully requires real and committed leadership which I believe Jeh Johnson is providing. Congress needs to play its part through oversight to assist the Secretary to identify areas that need improvements and pass bills to give him the authority to make the necessary changes, such as reducing unnecessary duplication or adding measurable outcomes and performance goals.”