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DHS Intelligence Nominee to Revamp Beleaguered Office’s Hiring Practices 

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By Stew Magnuson 

Caryn Wagner, nominee to be undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, said she will try to improve the low morale, high turnover and slow hiring process at the organization.

The intelligence and analysis office is charged with coordinating and sharing information on threats to the homeland with other federal intelligence agencies, and pushing information down to state, local and tribal governments.

It has also a unique capability to gather information on potential threats from other DHS agencies such as the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection the Transportation Security Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Wagner was nominated after a 30-year career in the intelligence field. She retired from the Army as a captain in the signal intelligence corps in 1987, and went on to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the CIA and later served as the budget director on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is now on the faculty of the Intelligence and Security Academy in Reston, Va.

There is “unfinished work,” on building the office, Lieberman said at Wagner’s confirmation hearing.

The Homeland Security Institute in an evaluation of the office rated the functional level of the office between a one and a two on a one-to-five scale.

Ranking Member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine., said the hiring process at the office is slow and onerous. Qualified personnel have to wait so long to be hired there, that “they are snatched up by other agencies while they’re waiting.”

Furthermore, 63 percent of the office’s 600 to 700 employees are contractors, and some of them are doing inherently government work, which is not permitted, she pointed out.
Wagner promised a thorough review of the hiring practices if confirmed.
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