The Case of Robert Schofield

One of the main failings of American culture, it seems to me, is the tendency to underestimate the practical problems of management. The failure is especially pronounced in  government where Congress exercises little oversight of enormous federal programs and agencies it has created.

The case of Robert Schofield   underscores my point, and more than anything I hope that  this will come to mind the next time you hear a proposal for a giant Omnibus government  agency or program.

As much of Washington headed out of town for the holiday or was busy preparing for holiday guests, the Washington Post carried a story of Robert Schofield. Since it is unlikely to be carried elsewhere and it, I think, a significant and illuminating case, I want to bring it to your attention.

Mr. Schofield is  Department of Homeland Security supervisor . He is  charged with falsifying immigration documents to help ( at least 23) Asian immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship, officials said yesterday,

the article begins. And then we get to this:

'Over the past decade, the government investigated 'numerous allegations of bribery involving Schofield and Asian immigration applicants' when he worked at the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, according to court documents unsealed yesterday. Schofield was demoted at one point for 'conduct unbecoming a government employee,' the documents say, and had an 'inappropriate relationship' with a woman connected to an INS criminal probe.

When confronted about that relationship by INS officials, Schofield fled to East Asia, where he made $36,000 worth of unauthorized purchases on his government—issued credit card, according to court documents.

It was unclear when Schofield returned to the United States, how the previous investigations ended and how Schofield became a supervisor when the new Department of Homeland Security took over INS's functions in 2003. Homeland Security spokesman Jarrod Agen would not comment on Schofield's employment history.'

Now, it is inexplicable that a man who  was under investigation at INS, demoted, fled, and misused federal funds subsequently returns and  is hired as a supervisor overlooking Homeland Security from which position he reportedly

'is responsible for everything from performance reviews to hearing appeals from immigration applicants.'

The story adds that 'experts' say these charges could

'undermine public confidence in DHS and its ability to protect the country's borders when debate is swirling in Washington about immigration reform.'

You don't say.

INS was a grossly—mismanaged operation before the creation of the even more unwieldy Homeland Security Department, and, once again, our solons enacted a dramatic sounding 'restructuring' which dealt not at all with the underlying problems .The case underscores that you can't build a bigger pile of dross in the hope it will be alchemized into gold.

Do not talk to me today about immigration reform with yet more elaborate regulatory schemes to be administered by these same people, unless you persuade me that this one is working better than it is.  And pardon me if I don't even want to hear what's happening at the new National Intelligence Agency.

But I have a reasonable notion.

Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC.

One of the main failings of American culture, it seems to me, is the tendency to underestimate the practical problems of management. The failure is especially pronounced in  government where Congress exercises little oversight of enormous federal programs and agencies it has created.

The case of Robert Schofield   underscores my point, and more than anything I hope that  this will come to mind the next time you hear a proposal for a giant Omnibus government  agency or program.

As much of Washington headed out of town for the holiday or was busy preparing for holiday guests, the Washington Post carried a story of Robert Schofield. Since it is unlikely to be carried elsewhere and it, I think, a significant and illuminating case, I want to bring it to your attention.

Mr. Schofield is  Department of Homeland Security supervisor . He is  charged with falsifying immigration documents to help ( at least 23) Asian immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship, officials said yesterday,

the article begins. And then we get to this:

'Over the past decade, the government investigated 'numerous allegations of bribery involving Schofield and Asian immigration applicants' when he worked at the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, according to court documents unsealed yesterday. Schofield was demoted at one point for 'conduct unbecoming a government employee,' the documents say, and had an 'inappropriate relationship' with a woman connected to an INS criminal probe.

When confronted about that relationship by INS officials, Schofield fled to East Asia, where he made $36,000 worth of unauthorized purchases on his government—issued credit card, according to court documents.

It was unclear when Schofield returned to the United States, how the previous investigations ended and how Schofield became a supervisor when the new Department of Homeland Security took over INS's functions in 2003. Homeland Security spokesman Jarrod Agen would not comment on Schofield's employment history.'

Now, it is inexplicable that a man who  was under investigation at INS, demoted, fled, and misused federal funds subsequently returns and  is hired as a supervisor overlooking Homeland Security from which position he reportedly

'is responsible for everything from performance reviews to hearing appeals from immigration applicants.'

The story adds that 'experts' say these charges could

'undermine public confidence in DHS and its ability to protect the country's borders when debate is swirling in Washington about immigration reform.'

You don't say.

INS was a grossly—mismanaged operation before the creation of the even more unwieldy Homeland Security Department, and, once again, our solons enacted a dramatic sounding 'restructuring' which dealt not at all with the underlying problems .The case underscores that you can't build a bigger pile of dross in the hope it will be alchemized into gold.

Do not talk to me today about immigration reform with yet more elaborate regulatory schemes to be administered by these same people, unless you persuade me that this one is working better than it is.  And pardon me if I don't even want to hear what's happening at the new National Intelligence Agency.

But I have a reasonable notion.

Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC.