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Yet Another Whine about a Report Card

No, seriously. The GAO’s report on DHS is really important evidence that Bush has done very little to make this country more safe. But I’m most struck by the fact that the DHS people quoted are making exactly the same complaint the military did last week, when GAO reported that Iraq has met few of its benchmarks (for the record, DHS seems to be doing somewhat better than Iraq, making at least moderate progress in 6 of 14 benchmarks, whereas Iraq has made at least moderate progress in 7 of 18.

Then again, Iraq has a civil war raging

Both agencies, however, are complaining that the GAO is being unfair because it dares to give failing grades, because it refused the change failing grades, and because it used outdated reports largely because the agency in question wouldn’t give GAO the current ones. Here’s the DHS hack:

DHS Undersecretary for Management Paul A. Schneider said that the GAOshould have graded the department higher on 42 of 171 directives. TheGAO relied on a flawed methodology that "fails to accurately reflectthe Department’s progress in many specific program areas," he said in aformal 42-page response.

Schneider also said investigators relied on outdated reports, appliedvague, shifting and inconsistent grading standards, and set up anunfair, "pass-fail" approach to assessing a spectrum of progress thatshould be expected to take many years.

"The GAO Report treats all of the performance expectations as if theywere of equal significance," Schneider said. "In contrast, theDepartment uses a risk-based approach to consider its overallpriorities," adding that the DHS has met 37 of 50 objectives insecuring transportation modes, which were targeted in the 2001 attacks.

And here’s the Administration on its Iraq benchmarks.

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