Sunday, May 5, 2013

Acting Leadership at NPPD

Two different news sources reported Friday ( and DisasterZone) and that Rand Beers, Under Secretary of DHS for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) had been appointed to fill the post of Acting Deputy Secretary of DHS, filling in for the departing DS Jane Holl Lute. Beers served in the same post while Holt went through the nomination and confirmation process back in early 2009.

The HSToday piece noted that Deputy Under Secretary Suzanne Spaulding will serve as Acting Under Secretary for NPPD. Typically that would mean that the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Infrastructure Protection, Caitlin Durkovich, would step up to the Acting Deputy Under Secretary position. In the past we saw the Director of ISCD move up to the OIP Acting Assistant Secretary position. It was the management turmoil created by situations like this that resulted in at least some of the problems at ISCD. It will be interesting to see if one of the other OIP divisions will provide the AAS this time around.

Since there is no nominee for the Deputy Secretary position, or even a public discussion about a probable nominee, Beers/Spaulding/Durkovich et al could be in their acting positions for some time. This could spell trouble for the CFATS program. Over the last year or so there have been some serious questions about the program in Congress and the recent flap over the lack of Top Screen filing by West Fertilizer has even more people gunning for the program. This type of leadership shuffling could leave the program vulnerable, especially if Wulf is elevated to the AAS position.

This game of leadership musical chairs could also cause some problems for the implementation of the Cybersecurity Framework. While both Spaulding and Durkovich have significant experience in cybersecurity matters (on the IT side, of course), the acting titles will make it more difficult to move the DHS side of the implementation forward at the accelerated pace called for the EO 13636. Bureaucracies don’t respond well when they know the leadership is about to change; the mediocre tend to move into the career protective mode.

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