Michael D. Langan
Special to the Buffalo News
secret service photo
It is time for Treasury defenders in Congress to return the Secret Service to Treasury’s oversight.
When I served as senior adviser to the under secretary for enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1988 to 1998, the Secret Service was one of the proud standard bearers of the best agencies that the federal government could offer to its citizens.
It has been in decline lately because of a breakdown in leadership, morale, procedures and protocols.
As a result, the issue of who should oversee the Secret Service is on the front burner again.
Should it continue to be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, as it has for the past 11 years, or return to the Treasury Department, where it resided for 138 years?
Here is some recent history.
The 9/11 Commission, established in 2002, recommended that the Secret Service and other elements of federal law enforcement be placed in a new, massive entity, the Department of Homeland Security. Ostensibly, this meant that law enforcement decision-making could be captured in one place without the problems of competing bureaucracies.
The commission’s intent was to make the United States safer from terrorist attacks after 9/11. Despite Homeland Security’s good efforts, things haven’t worked out for the Secret Service or, it seems, for other law enforcement agencies put in that same department. It could be argued that there are more competing bureaucracies within Homeland Security than before the mergers.
Sometimes bigger isn’t better; it’s bad. Confusion can reign because of conflicting rules, internal squabbles, budget insufficiencies and overlapping jurisdictions.
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