Monday, March 7, 2011

Reader Comments – Rick Driggers

Last week reader Evilbean (great pen-name) left a comment on my blog about the recent ISCD re-organization questioning my assertion that Rick Driggers doesn’t appear to have the experience to run a program the size of CFATS. Evilbean notes that Driggers has been used to fix other programs in the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection.

I have heard the same thing from another reader with close contacts within the Department. That, combined with his limited legal tenure as Acting Director, would make the size of organizations that he has managed in the past much less important, I suppose. As I said in the original posting, we’ll just have to wait and see how effective his changes will be.

Evilbean does make one important point that I completely agree with. He writes:

“Rick understands that if he does not give industry feedback on their SSPs - and fast - that corporate comptrollers that have allocated capital funds to CFATS required upgrades will seize those funds and reallocate them to other corporate priorities. Its hard to argue with their logic that if DHS is not serious about compliance and enforcement then why should they be?”
Generally speaking there is support in the chemical manufacturing community for the CFATS program, even though it is a costly program. If the effectiveness of that program continues to slide the support for the program will inevitably evaporate. Then we will be in the same situation as the EPA and OSHA chemical safety programs; CFATS will become just another regulatory program where people do the absolute minimum to remain in compliance. Any time a fault is found it will be tied up for years in court before it gets resolved. A lot of us had hoped for better with this program.

As I said in the earlier posting, the only change being made that I have a real opinion on is the direct control of the inspection force by the acting-director. It’s not so much that I disagree with the change, but I know that a person can only directly control so many direct reports. In the Army, they tried to limit that to no more than 5 people. Nine Regional Commanders, four Branch chiefs and an Assistant-Director; that’s just too many balls to keep in the air. That’s especially true for people who are separated by time and distance.

Oh, well. It is Acting-Director Driggers’ show, for another couple of months any way. I wish him the best of luck. No matter how skillful a trouble shooter he may be, he is still going to need a large dose of luck. And the Department does need him to be successful.

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