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It appears the forthcoming terror report will implicate the young National Counterterrorism Center:
Without naming the agency, he put the National Counterterrorism Center, the new entity formed after 9/11 to do precisely this function, squarely in his crosshairs.
Until the report (to be released today) has been fully dissected and cross-examined, it is impossible to say whether President Obama is pointing his finger at the right culprit. Of all the parts of the complex system and of all of the post-9/11 reforms, I would have considered the NCTC to be one of the better functioning.
I wouldn’t, but Dr. Feaver (great name) will likely know more than I on the matter. The reasons I wouldn’t expect it to be one of the better functioning organizations in the IC are
- The organization is new, and was created in a relative panic;
- Its function is merely coordination–admittedly a tough job–without authority; and
- The turf-protectiveness of the IC almost guarantees that the NCTC’s analysis would be incomplete.
I harbor a great deal of respect for the many talented individuals who labor within dysfunctional, unnecessarily competitive intel organizations. Intel reform has clearly not worked–in fact, there really hasn’t been reform. Adding layers of bureaucracy, especially without real power, is not reform at all. Pointing fingers and sacking people is often the politically astute path, but it almost guarantees that we’ll have this discussion again.
Tyler Cowen addresses the useful and timely question, “what are some examples of successful government bureaucracies?”:
Wars aside, here is a short and very incomplete list: the NIH, the Manhattan Project, U.C. Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Fairfax County, the World Trade Organization, the urban planners of postwar Germany, some of the Victorian public works and public health commissions, most of what goes on in Singapore, anywhere that J.S. Bach worked.
The European Union has been very good for eastern Europe. I’ll leave aside the health care issue because we’ve debated that plenty already. The real question is what all these examples have in common.
I would add–as one commenter did–the Tennessee Valley Authority. For commonality, I would throw out that most of these (if not all) have some sort of urgency about their objectives. That point’s debatable, but what isn’t all that debatable is that bureaucracies without urgency and big missions tend to be cumbersome.
Fairly quiet week last week (or maybe it was just me–or certain pop stars, sex symbols, and TV pitchmen). Anyway, regulation and distrust, bureaucracy in the Metro crash, Fed hides the juice from SEC, the on-again off-again revolution in Iran, and using chopper drones to nab pirates; these are a few of the stories that splattered against the windshield last week:
Study: regulation correlated with distrust
Metro crash victims face bureaucracy
Fed fools SEC in banks’ shotgun wedding
Parsing the predicted revolution
Chopper drone hunts pirates
Posted in Week in Public Organizations
Tagged bureaucracy, distrust, drone, Federal Reserve, green revolution, Iran, Metro, pirates, regulation, Securities and Exchange Commission, shotgun wedding, Tehran
I wonder if the epilogue to the stages of grief is bureaucracy:
Asked to identify her body, they pinpointed the mole on her lip and her finely arched eyebrows. Their daughter’s life was now boiled down to a bureaucratic moniker — Case No. 09-01458 — on a Proof of Death certificate.
As they wheeled into an expanse of parking lots, they had a hard time finding the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Straight up? No, go to the right! I know where it is! No, that’s the court supervision building!
They parked on a gravelly lot, littered with crushed soda cups, plastic forks and flattened cases of mints.
“Here we go,” Erwin said, climbing the stairs to the morgue, “Bldg. 27” written on the front door. “Big one.”
These vignettes, in typical Washington Post human interest story style, say little about the background processes of the bureaucracy that will remain invisible to all but the families of the nine fatalities, the seventy some injured, and the Metro organization and NTSB who try to piece together what happened. Of course, there will be lawsuits and other claims that make it into the public record, and these processes will drag out possibly for years.
Behind it all, it seems unusually cruel that the victims–both physical and organizational–will be thrown into the bureaucracy to work out its processes while working out their pain. Yet, it is only the worst system except for all the others.
One would hope, but with little optimism, that the inevitable review study will take into account organizational factors in the same way the Columbia board and 9/11 commission did. It’s not much, but it’s a start.