Thursday, May 12, 2016

DHS boils down its mission statement

Charles S. Clark, Government Executive Magazine, May 11, 2016, says the Department of Homeland Security has boiled its mission statement from a long, wordy chunk to one sentence:

"With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland and our values."

When I saw that, I thought, "Wow is that awkward." But then I read the old version, which among other semantic horrors, used "mature" as a transitive verb ("maturing and strengthening...").

Who writes this stuff? Well, it was the work of 3,000 people. Apparently the secretary Jeh Johnson asked for ideas. Then he took the words that appeared the most often--honor, integrity, and safeguard and crammed them into it. He also talked to the three previous secretaries.

This is what happens when nonprofessionals try to write things.

First, I don't like the word homeland--never have. It's not something Americans say. We say continental United States or our nation...something like that. How do you summon up honor to do something--you are honorable or not. And "our values"--apparently this is open to debate these days when some people think our values involve questioning people on their faith and then restricting them if they come up with the "wrong" answer. Where's the "integrity" there, for that matter?

Does your organization have a mission statement? Maybe mission statements do get people on the same page...but they have to be less general and badly worded.

In my opinion...anyhow.


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