February 6, 2007

....certainly in terms of accountability and availability.

I think the appointment of Philip Perry, Dick Cheney's son-in-law, to the post of General Counsel for the Dept. of Homeland Security probably elicited a few groans of nepotism/cronyism, but not much more. Neither did his subsequent resignation some eighteen months later (and after the November elections) for the properly vague reason of "wanting to spend more time with his family."

But hearings headed by our new Democratic majority may clue in to why Perry got out of Dodge. The US Comptroller General testified Tuesday before a House subcommittee that the Department of Homeland Security is rife with accountability and oversight problems:

(The Dept. of Homeland Security) is the government's second-largest agency, yet it has never been able to obtain a "clean" audit of its finances and may not be able to account for all of its spending or resources, according to a report presented by David M. Walker, who heads the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Walker reported Tuesday to the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security that DHS has stalled his auditors and hampered their access to documents and officials, making it difficult to sustain the level of oversight that Congress requires.

Guess who Walker named as specifically hampering any audits or oversight?

...(Walker) complained that GAO has had to go through the office of General Counsel Philip Perry. [..]Walker said it is his understanding that people from Perry's office have to review documents GAO seeks before they are released and selectively sit in on interviews with department employees.

"When you have more lawyers in a meeting than program people, you know you got a problem."

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