It is a generally accepted proposition, except in some government bureaucracies, that clearly incompetent employees should be removed from the organization. There is also a maxim in organizational development that says something to the effect that every effective organization on occasions needs to be pruned or it will become like an unruly plant in a tight space. Someone (we wish we could remember where we heard it) said that organizations like houses need to have a yard sale from time to time. It is a fact of reality that if an organization does not purge itself of the deadwood from time to time, and specifically when an atrocity, occurs that it will eventually become incapable of reform because the unacceptable has become acceptable.
Such seems to be the case with the ATF—the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
We think the ATF should be abolished and the actually competent members moved to other better managed agencies. The functions that the ATF performs that are actually needed can and should be performed by other existing agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI etc.
The reason abolishing the ATF is so important is that it would send a message to other government agencies that the people within an organization have to protect the organization from the unacceptable becoming acceptable. An organizational culture can become so dysfunctional that the ethos of the organization must be completely revamped.
Fast and Furious should never have happened. But simply replacing the few who were directly responsible and those who should have been supervising them is not sufficient. There were entirely too many people who knew this was wrong and did nothing. Thus, the problem in the ATF is a cultural problem, not just a matter of a few isolated misfits. Pruning it is not sufficient and will actually do more long term harm than to do what is necessary….abolish it. Cut the tree down, bulldoze the roots and permanently destroy it.
But there is still a pruning job needed. And that is at the Justice Department. The Attorney General needs to be pruned out of that organization.