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Experts say DHS policy shop lacks resources

Experts say DHS policy shop lacks resources

   The 2007 budget for the Department of Homeland Security released Monday includes an increase of $8.1 million to $20 million to support Secretary Michael Chertoff’s new Office of Policy, Planning and International Affairs.

   But a group of former Bush administration officials and outside experts warn that the office is working on a shoestring budget that hamstrings its effectiveness.

   Chertoff created the office last year to provide a unified policy planning staff to oversee policy development, make sure programs fit the departments priorities and budget, and coordinate international programs. As part of the restructuring, the Border and Transportation Security directorate was eliminated and folded into the policy office.

   In a letter to Chertoff, former DHS official Stewart Verdery and seven other academics say the promise of the policy office is being undermined by a lack of resources, and that immediate funding is needed for staff, contractors, travel and other needs.

   “The amount provided is wholly insufficient for the work that the office has, and should be, assigned,” the group said.

   The group, which includes former White House homeland security advisor and current Brookings Institute fellow Richard Falkenrath, urged Chertoff to immediately shift money and personnel from other programs to increase the office’s staff by at least 25 individuals.

   The Office of Policy has about 80 employees.

   Verdery said in an interview that DHS can’t wait until Congress passes an appropriations bill this fall to provide the necessary staff and resources.

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