Agency Directors and Political Appointees
I was giving some thought about how the many agencies are run and looked upon. It seems some agencies are run by career appointees who serve a term and others are more political heads picked by each administration? I know the career types still usually need congressional approval, but I think people get the difference. Itâ€™s also is hard to compare the relative power of each agency head. I understand that anything immigration related is political, but it seems to affect everything DHS does sans the Secret Service and the Coast Guard.
Aside from the FBI, which is completely different animal, do most agency heads (ATF, USSS, and DEA) change with each administration? Are their heads generally career LE types or political people? It just seems like ICE and CBP (i.e. Myers and Basham) are more political than most and is it even fair to compare them with other agency heads?
Political Appointees vs. Senior Executive Service
H. Schoolboy, I believe the most significant difference is the manner in which funding is accessible to the respective agency. The politically appointed agency director has much greater access to the lawmakers/dollar providers than the career service agency director. My experience has been that the appointee will stay through a different administration if the agency has decent morale and a reasonably balanced budget. I think the most frequent appointee changes with new Presidents are Ambassadors, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals. That's not to say there's no affect on the career service agency directors when an administration changes. Those directors usually just move to a different job within the senior management throes of government. I had an SES boss who left from an operational security position, to director of the holocaust museum, and is now a director at NASA. Speaking of Ralph Basham, he's a highly regarded law enforcement manager who has a reputation of fixing broken agencies. He retired from USSS, was director of ATF, USSS, FLETC and now CBP. I might have missed one or two. I think Myers is well known due to the major immigration issues and media attention at hand. I don't know a whole lot about her.