26 February 2007

Iraq and the Turf War

I am a retired bureaucrat from the INTEL side at DoD, having worked in the AR&D area, and coming up through various departments and such trying to get one major project going and then contribute to the forward looking capability of the DoD. In that time I got to go to a lot of places, meet with other government Agencies (both Civil and Military) and, in general, had to pick up a working knowledge of how Agencies viewed their own capabilities.

And protected their turf.

And within that protected turf set up 'fiefdoms' of entrenched individuals who saw their area as sacrosanct.

I am not surprised, then, when running across this article at INTEL DUMP by Phil Carter on 25 FEB 2007: The Diyala Two-Step. It goes through the extreme problems of getting cross-Department and Agency support for *anything*, in this case trying to move Dept. of State into the lead on Provincial Reconstruction Teams. I will say that the organization that he cites and that particular author are ones that I do not trust anymore. The description given, however, of non-cooperation *within* the US Federal Government is a pure extension of how they operate at home. And since the US is where the decisions are made, that extreme set of 'turf' conflicts and 'protecting resources' from 'poaching' by other Agencies is endemic across the Federal Government.

As an example, DoS has a laundry list of people that is cited, as necessary for their PRTs to succeed, beyond the mere translation portion of it. This quote is absolutely chime ringing on this: "No foreign service in the world has those people," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained.

And the people they are lacking? From the cited article: "...agronomists, engineers, police officers or technicians of its own to send to Iraq."

These are requests sent to OTHER Federal Agencies for individual willing to get an upping in pay to go to an active combat zone, risk life and limb to help out, and, generally, in doing the best job possible to be seen as highly advisable for future promotion. Yes, it is difficult to get volunteers to go overseas for high pay, hard work and chance of good reward! Within the DoD Agency I worked at the Civilian side had its *own* deployable folks and the list of people *willing* to deploy for months to a year. And having known them, some are retired military, but a vast majority are *not*, but have commitment to the mission of providing the best capabilities to the Armed Forces so that they can be effective and lives can be saved.

This same affinity is lacking in the Agencies now being asked to pony up skilled professionals willing to put forth more for their Nation. And where might some of these people come from?

Agronomists - Department of Agriculture which has a truly huge budget and hands out more pork than can be dreamt of by all of Congress. Luckily multiple Congresses have so packed in the pork that no single Congress need expend itself to think upon it. Be that as it may I did put forth on how to defund the drug trade in Afghanistan by rechanneling the pork to something *useful* and then using Dept. of Agriculture analysts to ensure that non-narcotic crops are grown and then to give the first real tests of MOAB upon those that try to still grow the stuff. And you wouldn't even have to *touch* the $0.548 Billion went to disaster relief that they set aside... just the $12 Billion or so to farm subsidies, crop subsidies, water subsidies, and general cash payments for 'set aside' programs... also known as 'not growing crops'. Now I am sure that everyone will point to all the fine work done in rural parts of the Nation by the USDA, and all the lovely price supports, subsidies and such actually helping people to grow crops un-economically, but that is a relatively small part of their budget as seen in the breakout provided by Heartland Insititute giving the quick once over on the 2003-5 USDA budget projections.

And even *better* is that the USDA has BUDGETED for such things as providing overseas help to DoS as seen from Foreign Agricultural Service/USDA site on the Statement of A. Ellen Terpstra, Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Before the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2005:

Our FY 2006 budget proposes a funding level of $152.4 million for FAS and 982 staff years. This is an increase of $11.2 million above the FY 2005 level and represents the funds needed to ensure the agency's continued ability to conduct its activities and provide services to U.S. agriculture.

The budget proposes an increase of $8.8 million for support of FAS overseas offices. The FAS network of 78 overseas offices covering over 130 countries is vulnerable to the vagaries of macro-economic events that are beyond the agency's control. The significantly weakened U.S. dollar and higher International Cooperative Administrative Support Services (ICASS) payments to DOS have caused base costs to increase sharply. Since 2002, the dollar has fallen 9 percent against currencies of our major markets.

Specifically, this increase includes:
$5.4 million to maintain current services at the 78 FAS offices around the world, including $2.4 million for wage increases for locally employed staff; $900 thousand for higher rents; and $900 thousand for increases in all other in-country expenses including security, repairs, travel, and supplies. Additionally, an increase of $1.2 million will be required to meet higher ICASS payments to DOS.

$2.7 million for the FY 2006 Capital Security Cost Sharing Program assessment. In FY 2005, DOS implemented a program through which all agencies with an overseas presence in U.S. diplomatic facilities will pay a proportionate share for accelerated construction of new secure, safe, and functional diplomatic facilities. These costs will be allocated annually based on the number of authorized personnel positions. This plan is designed to generate a total of $17.5 billion to fund 150 new facilities over a 14-year period. The FAS assessment is estimated to increase annually in roughly $3 million increments until FY 2009, at which time the annual assessed level will total an estimated $12 million. This level is assumed to remain constant at that point for the following 9 years.

$650 thousand to support the FAS presence in the soon-to-be constructed embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, after an absence of nearly 20 years. FAS will have the lead on all USDA activities and projects in support of Iraq and its agricultural development. This will entail the entire range of market development, market access, and market intelligence tools available to FAS and its industry partners.
The budget also includes an increase of $2.4 million to cover higher personnel compensation costs associated with the anticipated FY 2006 pay raise. Pay cost increases are non‑discretionary and must be funded. Absorption of these costs in FY 2006 would primarily come from reductions in agency personnel levels that would significantly affect FAS's ability to contribute to USDA's strategic goal of enhancing economic opportunities for agricultural producers.
Now let us peruse these numbers! The overall budget increase is that of 7.34% with inflation running in the 3-4% range. That does not address increase costs of running such a widely distributed operation as USDA, which includes getting foreign food inspectors registered with them, moving personnel during an time of increased travel costs, and the such like. Yes, those 'USDA Approved' sticker on that canned ham you got from Poland means that there is an office there to certify inspectors, run the inspection regulation program... you didn't think that foreign inspectors had to come HERE did you? No, the US of A believes in sending our bureaucracy overseas, too! Or that they ran a 'spot inspection program' on imports to ensure quality? Sorry, those 78 offices worldwide are ALL USDA personnel staffed, to keep up the quality of food bearing the USDA sticker of approval.

Onwards to the 982 staff years... yes, not 'person years' or 'man years' but "staff years". What this number is, at the very highest level, is something I came to know as the 'burdened personnel cost' in which all the extraneous factors of employment got added in to the overall staff pay cost. These included things like: 1:1 matching funds to employee Thrift Savings Plan accounts (the accounts employees put gross pay into for retirement), the Federal portion of the various employee health plans (of which the employee picks up 40% or so), travel costs, overhead costs of staff maintenance and the basics that were not outlays for buildings and supplies. Further, as roll-up number, this can be knocked out to more than 982 warm bodies with part-timers and such allowing for that to expand, but the overhead increases, too. Finally all contract personnel costs are put into that, which have their own additional overhead cost for running the contract which has some built-in profit based on contract proposals.

But the real 'meat' is the money they have put into the budget for actually resourcing staff to Baghdad! Unfortunately read what they are looking to supply: market development, market access, and market intelligence tools. Now, this may come as a surprise, based on how many offices and astute locals there are with USDA scattered around our fine Nation, but the Iraqis may need help in actually finding the best CROPS TO GROW! As in: look at the climate and needs and find out what fits them best. You know, like they do for the US in telling us which crops *not to grow* and pay for that? This is a reverse sort of deal where you find the best crops *to grow* and help the farmers to figure out the best way to grow them.

And the real problem: look at the subsidies budget from 2004 at nearly $12.5 Billion.

Look at the FAS part of USDA proposed for 2006: $152.4 Million.

Yes about 1.2% of the size between helping the US get Iraqi agriculture stood up so it can employee folks and get them off the street into good paying jobs and between paying subsidies, a good portion of which goes to not growing crops in the US. That is the real value of our National Security and National Sovereignty: We don't pay to help others to secure freedom and liberty, but we sure do love paying lots of money to folks here so they can get illegal labor to work at their crops! But if Congress doesn't push hard on it, then these things just get done in a lackadaisical fashion...

Next up, engineers. Considering that the US Army Corps of Engineers is doing its bit, we will assume that this is *not* the large scale infrastructure engineering for electricity, clean water, and sewage, along with road building, airport re-building and all those lovely large buildings going up in the way of hospitals, schools, firehouses, police stations, army training areas, border fortifications (say, we could use a few of those!), shipping waterways, oil pumping and refining.... Quite a long list for USACE, isn't it? So lets look at the Dept. of Transportation and see what they can help out on, shall we? This is a link to their 2006 budget and from that a few areas of definite interest show up almost immediately!

Say, the entire FAA portion PLUS the building and infrastructure portion for airport maintenance and helping to fund security are done here to help out TSA. They have an overall asked for budget of $13.78 Billion and some interesting numbers on repair of damaged facilities in previous years shows what would normally be expected for such things, which run at the ~$400 Million per airport for things like hurricane damage and such. Now those are nice, modern US airports, and my bet is with a bit of work that number couldn't be more than 50% higher for Iraqi needs. Now where is Congress when you need it?

Even better are all the people dedicated to flight safety, training and the entire how to design, layout and operate an airport deal! Why, those folks could be mighty handy *and* take a load from USACE, too.

The Federal Highway folks fall into here and USACE has had to do *that* too. Repairing roads and upgrading them and putting in heavy vehicle capable roads have all been under the USACE purview, and here we have an entire group at DOT that concentrates on how best to design, layout, pay contractors for construction, test, and then train maintenance personnel just for *roads*.

For Public Transit we have the Federal Transit Administration, which covers that panoply of assessing public transportation projects, doing planning and development for new systems and the such like. Yes, helping out on surface rail, busing and such would be a great help if anyone ever bothered to fund them and tell them to help. That would be Congress, BTW.

The Federal Railroad Administration is also under DOT! Yes, now the folks in Iraq could certainly use Amtrack! Ok, maybe take a mulligan on that and just hire competent contractors to help lay out new rail lines... but the FRA should be in on the oversight and planning and all that fun stuff. But, Congress would need to budget for that...

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration! At DOT! Just the folks I would want to help in looking at existing infrastructure and helping to lay the plans for new pipelines, refineries, cargo shipping for bulk hazardous materials by rail or on roads. A perfect match for Iraq! If only Congress would budget for it...

Maritime Administration is also at DOT, and with the needs of a congested oil terminal and port facilities nearly co-located, this is a prime concern for Iraq and long-distance oceanic shipping. These people could help out a *lot* in that and getting things really straightened out for long term use and take some load off of the US Navy and USACE. Ah, but where is Congress on that?
And the two prime line items for this? Well how about starting with:
Minority Business Resource Center (MBRC): $3.9 million is requested for MBRC activities. $0.9 million in Federal subsidy and administrative expenses will support an $18 million short-term loan guarantee program to assist small, disadvantaged and women-owned transportation-related businesses; and $3 million will fund the Minority Business Outreach program, which includes a clearinghouse for national dissemination of information on transportation-related projects and grants to minority educational institutions.

New Headquarters Building: $100 million is requested to finance the FY 2006 costs for the new Department of Transportation headquarters building. The goal is to consolidate the Department's headquarters operating functions into efficient leased office space in the District of Columbia.
Yes, a total of $104 Million is peanuts, but enough to get personnel over, projects scoped out, and long-term budget needs laid in and to help Iraqis understand the problems and the solutions. Congress could easily re-route the funds and hand a MBRC waiver and say that using those funds in Iraq is more vital to the long-term security of the Nation. Maybe some 'extra points' for using MBRC folks for normal work, above and beyond the Federal Mandates. You know, get rid of pork and put it to some good use?

Ah, police officers! Well beyond the already and ongoing civil police training. I mean the FBI is great for the Iraqi Security folks, but this goes way beyond that. In truth, after you get past the FBI, Secret Service, BATF, DEA, Treasury, and all the individual security organizations and contractors used for on-site security, it is difficult to find the old 'cop on the beat' training in the Federal system. This really *does* require hard partnership from the Federal side with the States to find police academies not only willing to stand up training capability but to help by getting some folks overseas to help on the local knowledge end of things. The US does a part of that as do the Coalition Nations, such as Poland, Romania, and so on. This is really not a major Federal area, but the folks at the above mentioned organizations can each play a role in things like force protection, counter-intelligence, internal affairs and policing. Still, if Congress doesn't budget for it, this is then left to the President to ask the States for any help they can give over the Slackers Upon the Hill.

Finally is technicians. All those wonderful roads, buildings, systems, and such needs technicians which are already employed working for the Federal Government in DOT and USDA and Dept. of Justice. DoD *itself* has more civilian technicians than you can shake a stick at. Technicians for building maintenance, climate control, automated systems, networking, road maintenance and inspection... again, if it is not in the Budget it does not get done.

And even if it *is* put into the budget, each Agency and Administration and organization will want to find ways to spend it for building their 'feudal empires', and *not* for the actual, specified reasons put in by Congress. And as these are 'extra duties' each Department and Agency will want more money to do them. Lots more.

We have lots of pork in the Federal system, enough to give this a rip-roaring start.

But it is Congress putting the pork in for their own personal needs to pay off lobbyists, contractors, consultants and often just to aggrandize their names.

In a time of war *not* removing such extras and placing those funds to the good of the Nation is destructive.

Pork is for terrorists.

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