Sept. 11 Prompting Broader Agency Reorganization? (Waste & Abuse)

Article excerpt

Six months after the World Trade Center twin towers came crashing down, shattering America's naive sense of insularity and invulnerability, the events of that September morning already have left an indelible mark on the size and shape (and, by extension, cost) of the federal government. Times of crisis and war always have been a boon to big government, and the war on terrorism will not break with that precedent.

Yet the urgency of the situation -- and the political imperative that government officials at least appear as though they are responding forcefully -- may yet bring harmony to the hodgepodge of agencies responsible for securing our borders and managing immigrants, legal and otherwise. Whether efficiency and productivity will improve as a result is open to debate; that a reorganization of the agencies in question is long overdue is beyond question. The Bush White House reportedly will push for consolidation of the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Border Patrol under one roof, possibly within the new Office of Homeland Security headed by former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.

Currently, the INS and Border Patrol operate under the Justice Department, while the Customs Service is under the Treasury Department. Ridge has held the title of homeland-security director for months, but what and whom he actually directs is a subject of political speculation and backroom haggling. …