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Statement by Secretary Johnson About Today's Washington Post Story on DHS

Release Date: 
September 22, 2014

For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010

Today’s story in The Washington Post, “Turnover at the top has DHS unsettled,” is about the past and disregards the present. The story’s portrayal of the Department of Homeland Security is unrecognizable to anyone acquainted with the remarkable reconstruction of this agency over the last nine months. In fact, over the last nine months there have been 12 presidential appointments to senior-level positions in this Department. Each of these appointees have pledged to serve until at least the end of this Administration. In fact, 90 percent of all positions at the SES level and above across this 240,000-person Department are now filled. This turnaround is almost entirely disregarded by the Post, as it is compressed into just two paragraphs in a 56-paragraph story. It is unfortunate that the Post overlooked this remarkable and unprecedented change to new and stable leadership, and the speed with which it has occurred. In fact, our new leaders include:

Alejandro Mayorkas, the new Deputy Secretary confirmed by the Senate on December 20, 2013 and sworn in December 23, 2013, formerly Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles;

R. Gil Kerlikowske, the new Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, confirmed by the Senate on March 6, 2014 and sworn in March 7, 2014, formerly the Police Commissioner in Buffalo and the Chief of Police in Seattle;

Suzanne Spaulding, the new Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, confirmed by the Senate on March 6, 2014 and sworn in March 7, 2014, preceded by 25 years of experience in national security and intelligence matters in the CIA and on Capitol Hill;

John Roth, the new Inspector General, confirmed by the Senate on March 6, 2014 and sworn in March 10, 2014, formerly a career federal prosecutor;

Francis X. Taylor, the new Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2014 and sworn in April 14, 2014, retired Air Force Brigadier General and formerly U.S. Ambassador at Large for Counterterrorism and former Chief Security Officer for GE;

Dr. Reggie Brothers, the new Under Secretary for Science and Technology, confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2014 and sworn in April 17, 2014, formerly a senior research official at the Department of Defense and responsible for all its laboratories;

León Rodríguez, the new Director for Citizenship and Immigration Services, confirmed by the Senate on June 26, 2014 and sworn in July 9, 2014, formerly a federal and state prosecutor and Director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services;

Joseph Nimmich, the new Deputy Administrator of FEMA, confirmed by the Senate on September 11, 2014 and sworn in September 22, 2014, formerly a senior executive at Raytheon and a retired Rear Admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard;

Chip Fulghum, the new Chief Financial Officer, just confirmed by the Senate on September 19, 2014, formerly DHS’s Chief Budget Director after 28 years in the U.S. Air Force;

Brian de Vallance, the new Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, appointed July 31, 2014; and

Tanya Bradsher, the new Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, appointed July 31, 2014.

These recent presidential appointments are in addition to other outstanding leaders within DHS.  They include: Administrator Craig Fugate (appointed in May 2009), an outstanding leader of FEMA who has brought that agency a long way from the days of Katrina; Administrator John Pistole (appointed in July 2010), who is leading TSA into a new and effective era of risk-based security; Director Julia Pierson (appointed in August 2013) who is leading the U.S. Secret Service through fundamental change; and Dr. Phyllis Schneck (appointed in August 2013), the Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, formerly the Chief Technology Officer at McAfee and one of the leading cybersecurity experts in the country. Meanwhile, Admirals Paul Zukunft and Pete Neffenger are bringing exciting new leadership to the Coast Guard after assuming command earlier this year. 

Pending in the Senate now are the nominations of Russell Deyo to be Undersecretary for Management (formerly Vice President for Administration at Johnson & Johnson) and Sarah Saldaña to be Director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (currently U.S. Attorney in Dallas). Both have bipartisan support in Congress and should be confirmed when the Senate returns after the 2014 elections.  With these appointments, virtually every position at the top of this Department will have been filled, and it will be occupied by a highly qualified public servant dedicated to the homeland security of this Nation – many of whom were recruited away from retirement or a higher-paying job in the private sector.

In fact, over the last nine months, this Department has been quickly transformed into one with new, steady and able leadership. Meanwhile, we have embarked on a Department-wide “Unity of Effort” initiative, begun aggressive campaigns to improve morale, made our hiring, promotion and training opportunities more transparent, recognize and reward employees for their good work, and provide better pay for our people. Again, it is unfortunate that the Washington Post has almost completely overlooked these remarkable and unprecedented changes underway within the Department.

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Last Published Date: September 22, 2014
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