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On the Record

Senate Passes Homeland Security Bill

Paul C. Light

Chung: Mr. Light, forgive me for being so skeptical, but I cannot believe that it will suddenly come together, 170,000 employees, melding these 22 agencies. It just seems beyond comprehension that it could come together and really make us safe.

Paul Light, Brookings Institution: Well, I think common sense is holding here.

This is a very, very large merger. It’s also, arguably, the most difficult merger in bureaucratic history, rather akin to the Romans trying to merge with Egypt. The point here is that the creation of the department increases the probability that we’ll be safer. But the actual execution here relies on the secretary of the new department and a great deal of hard work to heal the wounds that have been inflicted during the partisan debate over creation of the department.

This would have been a difficult reorganization under the best of circumstances. But the partisan disputes, the debate over labor, the disputes between Democrats and Republicans, the lack of funding for the new department, these all create a situation which is arguably the worst of circumstances. The new secretary needs to take hold quickly and show that he’s in charge and get moving on this, because it is going to take time…read entire interview

Brookings Project on Homeland Security

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