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Why are we still building walls?

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The Business of Building Walls

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe is once again known for its border walls. This time Europe is divided not so much by ideology as by perceived fear of refugees and migrants, some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Authors: Mark Akkerman

Executive Summary

Who killed the dream of a more open Europe? What gave rise to this new era of walls? There are clearly many reasons – the increasing displacement of people by conflict, repression and impoverishment, the rise of security politics in the wake of 9/11, the economic and social insecurity felt across Europe after the 2008 financial crisis – to name a few. But one group has by far the most to gain from the rise of new walls – the businesses that build them. Their influence in shaping a world of walls needs much deeper examination.

This report explores the business of building walls, which has both fuelled and benefited from a massive expansion of public spending on border security by the European Union (EU) and its member states. Some of the corporate beneficiaries are also global players, tapping into a global market for border security estimated to be worth approximately €17.5 billion in 2018, with annual growth of at least 8% expected in coming years.

It is important to look both beyond and behind Europe’s walls and fencing, because the real barriers to contemporary migration are not so much the fencing, but the vast array of technology that underpins it, from the radar systems to the drones to the surveillance cameras to the biometric fingerprinting systems. Similarly, some of Europe’s most dangerous walls are not even physical or on land. The ships, aircrafts and drones used to patrol the Mediterranean have created a maritime wall and a graveyard for the thousands of migrants and refugees who have no legal passage to safety or to exercise their right to seek asylum.

This renders meaningless the European Commission’s publicized statements that it does not fund walls and fences. Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein, for example, rejecting Hungary’s request to reimburse half the costs of the fences built on its borders with Croatia and Serbia, said: ‘We do support border management measures at external borders. These can be surveillance measures. They can be border control equipment…But fences, we do not finance’. In other words, the Commission is willing to pay for anything that fortifies a border as long as it is not seen to be building the walls themselves.

This report is a sequel to Building Walls – Fear and securitization in the European Union, co-published in 2018 with Centre Delàs and Stop Wapenhandel, which first measured and identified the walls that criss-cross Europe. This new report focuses on the businesses that have profited from three different kinds of wall in Europe:

  • The construction companies contracted to build the land walls built by EU member states and the Schengen Area together with the security and technology companies that provide the necessary accompanying technology, equipment and services;
  • The shipping and arms companies that provide the ships, aircraft, helicopters, drones that underpin Europe’s maritime walls seeking to control migratory flows in the Mediterranean, including Frontex operations, Operation Sophia and Italian operation Mare Nostrum;
  • And the IT and security companies contracted to develop, run, expand and maintain EU’s systems that monitor the movement of people – such as SIS II (Schengen Information System) and EES (Entry/Exit Scheme) – which underpin Europe’s virtual walls.

Booming budgets

The flow of money from taxpayers to wall-builders has been highly lucrative and constantly growing. The report finds that companies have reaped the profits from at least €900 million spent by EU countries on land walls and fences since the end of the Cold War. The partial data (in scope and years) means actual costs will be at least €1 billion. In addition, companies that provide technology and services that accompany walls have also benefited from some of the steady stream of funding from the EU – in particular the External Borders Fund (€1.7 billion, 2007-2013) and the Internal Security Fund – Borders Fund (€2.76 billion, 2014-2020).

EU spending on maritime walls has totalled at least €676.4 million between 2006 to 2017 (including €534 million spent by Frontex, €28.4 million spent by the EU on Operation Sophia and €114 million spent by Italy on Operation Mare Nostrum) and would be much more if you include all the operations by Mediterranean country coastguards. Total spending on Europe’s virtual wall equalled at least €999.4m between 2000 and 2019. (All these estimates are partial ones because walls are funded by many different funding mechanisms and due to lack of data transparency).

This boom in border budgets is set to grow. Under its budget for the next EU budget cycle (2021–2027) the European Commission has earmarked €8.02 billion to its Integrated Border Management Fund (2021-2027), €11.27bn to Frontex (of which €2.2 billion will be used for acquiring, maintaining and operating air, sea and land assets) and at least   €1.9 billion total spending (2000-2027) on its identity databases and Eurosur (the European Border Surveillance System).

The big arm industry players

Three giant European military and security companies in particular play a critical role in Europe’s many types of borders. These are Thales, Leonardo and Airbus.

  • Thales is a French arms and security company, with a significant presence in the Netherlands, that produces radar and sensor systems, used by many ships in border security. Thales systems, were used, for example, by Dutch and Portuguese ships deployed in Frontex operations. Thales also produces maritime surveillance systems for drones and is working on developing border surveillance infrastructure for Eurosur, researching how to track and control refugees before they reach Europe by using smartphone apps, as well as exploring the use of High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) for border security, for the European Space Agency and Frontex. Thales currently provides the security system for the highly militarised port in Calais. Its acquisition in 2019 of Gemalto, a large (biometric) identity security company, makes it a significant player in the development and maintenance of EU’s virtual walls. It has participated in 27 EU research projects on border security.
  • Italian arms company Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica or Leonardo-Finmeccanica) is a leading supplier of helicopters for border security, used by Italy in the Mare Nostrum, Hera and Sophia operations. It has also been one of the main providers of UAVs (or drones) for Europe’s borders, awarded a €67.1 million contract in 2017 by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to supply them for EU coast-guard agencies. Leonardo was also a member of a consortium, awarded €142.1 million in 2019 to implement and maintain EU’s virtual walls, namely its EES. It jointly owns Telespazio with Thales, involved in EU satellite observation projects (REACT and Copernicus) used for border surveillance. Leonardo has participated in 24 EU research projects on border security and control, including the development of Eurosur.
  • Pan-European arms giant Airbus is a key supplier of helicopters used in patrolling maritime and some land borders, deployed by Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Spain, including in maritime Operations Sophia, Poseidon and Triton. Airbus and its subsidiaries have participated in at least 13 EU-funded border security research projects including OCEAN2020, PERSEUS and LOBOS.
  • The significant role of these arms companies is not surprising. As Border Wars (2016), showed these companies through their membership of the lobby groups – European Organisation for Security (EOS) and the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) – have played a significant role in influencing the direction of EU border policy. Perversely, these firms are also among the top four biggest European arms dealers to the Middle East and North Africa, thus contributing to the conflicts that cause forced migration.

Indra has been another significant corporate player in border control in Spain and the Mediterranean. It won a series of contracts to fortify Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish enclaves in northern Morocco). Indra also developed the SIVE border control system (with radar, sensors and vision systems), which is in place on most of Spain’s borders, as well as in Portugal and Romania. In July 2018 it won a €10 million contract to manage SIVE at several locations for two years. Indra is very active in lobbying the EU and is a major beneficiary of EU research funding, coordinating the PERSEUS project to further develop Eurosur and the Seahorse Network, a network between police forces in Mediterranean countries (both in Europe and Africa) to stop migration.

Israeli arms firms are also notable winners of EU border contracts. In 2018, Frontex selected the Heron drone from Israel Aerospace Industries for pilot-testing surveillance flights in the Mediterranean. In 2015, Israeli firm Elbit sold six of its Hermes UAVs to the Switzerland’s Border Guard, in a controversial €230 million deal. It has since signed a UAV contract with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), as a subcontractor for the Portuguese company CEIIA (2018), as well as contracts to supply technology for three patrol vessels for the Hellenic Coast Guard (2019).

Land wall contractors

Most of the walls and fences that have been rapidly erected across Europe have been built by national construction companies, but one European company has dominated the field: European Security Fencing, a Spanish producer of razor wire, in particular a coiled wire known as concertinas. It is most known for the razor wire on the fences around Ceuta and Melilla. It also delivered the razor wire for the fence on the border between Hungary and Serbia, and its concertinas were installed on the borders between Bulgaria and Turkey and Austria and Slovenia, as well as at Calais, and for a few days on the border between Hungary and Slovenia before being removed. Given its long-term market monopoly, its concertinas are very likely used at other borders in Europe.

Other contractors providing both walls and associated technology include DAT-CON (Croatia, Cyprus, Macedonia, Moldova, Slovenia and Ukraine), Geo Alpinbau (Austria/Slovenia), Indra, Dragados, Ferrovial, Proyectos Y Tecnología Sallén and Eulen (Spain/Morocco), Patstroy Bourgas, Infra Expert, Patengineeringstroy, Geostroy Engineering, Metallic-Ivan Mihaylov and Indra (Bulgaria/Turkey), Nordecon and Defendec (Estonia/Russia), DAK Acélszerkezeti Kft and SIA Ceļu būvniecības sabiedrība IGATE (Latvia/Russia), Gintrėja (Lithuania/Russia), Minis and Legi-SGS(Slovenia/Croatia), Groupe CW, Jackson’s Fencing, Sorhea, Vinci/Eurovia and Zaun Ltd (France/UK).

In many cases, the actual costs of the walls and associated technologies exceed original estimates. There have also been many allegations and legal charges of corruption, in some cases because projects were given to corporate friends of government officials. In Slovenia, for example, accusations of corruption concerning the border wall contract have led to a continuing three-year legal battle for access to documents that has reached the Supreme Court. Despite this, the EU’s External Borders Fund has been a critical financial supporter of technological infrastructure and services in many of the member states’ border operations. In Macedonia, for example, the EU has provided €9 million for patrol vehicles, night-vision cameras, heartbeat detectors and technical support for border guards to help it manage its southern border.

Maritime wall profiteers

The data about which ships, helicopters and aircraft are used in Europe’s maritime operations is not transparent and therefore it is difficult to get a full picture. Our research shows, however, that the key corporations involved include the European arms giants Airbus and Leonardo, as well as large shipbuilding companies including Dutch Damen and Italian Fincantieri.

Damen’s patrol vessels have been used for border operations by Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK as well as in key Frontex operations (Poseidon, Triton and Themis), Operation Sophia and in supporting NATO’s role in Operation Poseidon. Outside Europe, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey use Damen vessels for border security, often in cooperation with the EU or its member states. Turkey’s €20 million purchase of six Damen vessels for its coast guard in 2006, for example, was financed through the EU Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), intended for peace-building and conflict prevention.

The sale of Damen vessels to Libya unveils the potential troubling human costs of this corporate trade. In 2012, Damen supplied four patrol vessels to the Libyan Coast Guard, sold as civil equipment in order to avoid a Dutch arms export license. Researchers have since found out, however, that the ships were not only sold with mounting points for weapons, but were then armed and used to stop refugee boats. Several incidents involving these ships have been reported, including one where some 20 or 30 refugees drowned. Damen has refused to comment, saying it had agreed with the Libyan government not to disclose information about the ships.

In addition to Damen, many national shipbuilders play a significant role in maritime operations as they were invariably prioritised by the countries contributing to each Frontex or other Mediterranean operation. Hence, all the ships Italy contributed to Operation Sophia were built by Fincantieri, while all Spanish ships come from Navantia and its predecessors. Similarly, France purchases from DCN/DCNS, now Naval Group, and all German ships were built by several German shipyards (Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft, HDW, Lürssen Gruppe). Other companies in Frontex operations have included Greek company, Motomarine Shipyards, which produced the Panther 57 Fast Patrol Boats used by the Hellenic Coast Guard, Hellenic Shipyards and Israel Shipyards.

Austrian company Schiebel is a significant player in maritime aerial surveillance through its supply of S-100 drones. In November 2018, EMSA selected the company for a €24 million maritime surveillance contract for a range of operations including border security. Since 2017, Schiebel has also won contracts from Croatia, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The company has a controversial record, with its drones sold to a number of countries experiencing armed conflict or governed by repressive regimes such as Libya, Myanmar, the UAE and Yemen.

Finland and the Netherlands deployed Dornier aircraft to Operation Hermes and Operation Poseidon respectively, and to Operation Triton. Dornier is now part of the US subsidiary of the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. CAE Aviation (Luxembourg), DEA Aviation (UK) and EASP Air (Netherlands) have all received contracts for aircraft surveillance work for Frontex. Airbus, French Dassault Aviation, Leonardo and US Lockheed Martin were the most important suppliers of aircraft used in Operation Sophia.

The EU and its member states defend their maritime operations by publicising their role in rescuing refugees at sea, but this is not their primary goal, as Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri made clear in April 2015, saying that Frontex has no mandate for ‘proactive search-and-rescue action[s]’ and that saving lives should not be a priority. The thwarting and criminalisation of NGO rescue operations in the Mediterranean and the frequent reports of violence and illegal refoulement of refugees, also demonstrates why these maritime operations should be considered more like walls than humanitarian missions.

Virtual walls

The major EU contracts for the virtual walls have largely gone to two companies, sometimes as leaders of a consortium. Sopra Steria is the main contractor for the development and maintenance of the Visa Information System (VIS), Schengen Information System (SIS II) and European Dactyloscopy (Eurodac), while GMV has secured a string of contracts for Eurosur. The systems they build help control, monitor and surveil people’s movements across Europe and increasingly beyond.

Sopra Steria is a French technology consultancy firm that has to date won EU contracts worth a total value of over €150 million. For some of these large contracts Sopra Steria joined consortiums with HP Belgium, Bull and 3M Belgium. Despite considerable business, Sopra Steria has faced considerable criticism for its poor record on delivering projects on time and on budget. Its launch of SIS II was constantly delayed, forcing the Commission to extend contracts and increase budgets. Similarly, Sopra Steria was involved in another consortium, the Trusted Borders consortium, contracted to deliver the UK e-Borders programme, which was eventually terminated in 2010 after constant delays and failure to deliver. Yet it continues to win contracts, in part because it has secured a near-monopoly of knowledge and access to EU officials. The central role that Sopra Steria plays in developing these EU biometric systems has also had a spin-off effect in securing other national contracts, including with Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Romania and Slovenia GMV, a Spanish technology company, has received a succession of large contracts for Eurosur, ever since its testing phase in 2010, worth at least €25 million. It also provides technology to the Spanish Guardia Civil, such as control centres for its Integrated System of External Vigilance (SIVE) border security system as well as software development services to Frontex. It has participated in at least ten EU-funded research projects on border security.

Most of the large contracts for the virtual walls that did not go to consortia including Sopra Steria were awarded by eu-LISA (European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice) to consortia comprising computer and technology companies including Accenture, Atos Belgium and Morpho (later renamed Idema).

Lobbying

As research in our Border Wars series has consistently shown, through effective lobbying, the military and security industry has been very influential in shaping the discourse of EU security and military policies. The industry has succeeded in positioning itself as the experts on border security, pushing the underlying narrative that migration is first and foremost a security threat, to be combatted by security and military means. With this premise, it creates a continuous demand for the ever-expanding catalogue of equipment and services the industry supplies for border security and control.

Many of the companies listed here, particularly the large arms companies, are involved in the European Organisation for Security (EOS), the most important lobby group on border security. Many of the IT security firms that build EU’s virtual walls are members of the European Biometrics Association (EAB). EOS has an ‘Integrated Border Security Working Group’ to ‘facilitate the development and uptake of better technology solutions for border security both at border checkpoints, and along maritime and land borders’. The working group is chaired by Giorgio Gulienetti of the Italian arms company Leonardo, with Isto Mattila (Laurea University of Applied Science) and Peter Smallridge of Gemalto, a digital security company recently acquired by Thales.

Company lobbyists and representatives of these lobby organisations regularly meet with EU institutions, including the European Commission, are part of official advisory committees, publish influential proposals, organise meetings between industry, policy-makers and executives and also meet at the plethora of military and security fairs, conferences and seminars. Airbus, Leonardo and Thales together with EOS held 226 registered lobbying meetings with the European Commission between 2014 and 2019. In these meetings representatives of the industry position themselves as the experts on border security, presenting their goods and services as the solution for ‘security threats’ caused by immigration. In 2017, the same group of companies and EOS spent up to €2.65 million on lobbying.

A similar close relationship can be seen on virtual walls, with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission arguing openly for public policy to foster the ‘emergence of a vibrant European biometrics industry’.

A deadly trade and a choice

The conclusion of this survey of the business of building walls is clear. A Europe full of walls has proved to be very good for the bottom line of a wide range of corporations including arms, security, IT, shipping and construction companies. The EU’s planned budgets for border security for the next decade show it is also a business that will continue to boom.

This is also a deadly business. The heavy militarisation of Europe’s borders on land and at sea has led refugees and migrants to follow far more hazardous routes and has trapped others in desperate conditions in neighbouring countries like Libya. Many deaths are not recorded, but those that are tracked in the Mediterranean show that the proportion of those who drown trying to reach Europe continues to increase each year.

This is not an inevitable state of affairs. It is both the result of policy decisions made by the EU and its member states, and corporate decisions to profit from these policies. In a rare principled stand, German razor wire manufacturer Mutanox in 2015 stated it would not sell its product to the Hungarian government arguing: ‘Razor wire is designed to prevent criminal acts, like a burglary. Fleeing children and adults are not criminals’. It is time for other European politicians and business leaders to recognise the same truth: that building walls against the world’s most vulnerable people violates human rights and is an immoral act that history will judge harshly. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is time for Europe to bring down its new walls.

Source: Transnational Institute

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Editorials

Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act

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Behind the Lofty SDGs the Reality is People Don’t Trust Governments to Act

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

Michael Sani is a fervent believer in people casting transformative power with their votes. As chief executive of Bite the Ballot, a program supporting the U.K. Cabinet Office to increase voter registration, he partnered with Starbucks to create “DeCafe” debates, re-invigorating the spirit of the 17th Century coffee shop to inspire participation in elections.

 

The social entrepreneur later took this initiative to France and Colombia to support political engagement in elections and saw its methodology inspire the African Prisons Project, which held events in prisons with key social justice stakeholders.

 

Now CEO of Play Verto, which he says takes a “holistic approach” to accelerating and magnifying social impact through data-led decision-making, Sani’s new target is nothing less than generating the people power to help change the world.

 

The British-born, Egypt-based former business studies teacher recently unveiled The People’s Report, a global poll enabling 17,000 people speaking 43 different languages on the front lines of climate change to submit de-facto annual returns on how it is affecting their daily lives. The aim is for this exercise to act as a flash scorecard on progress toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

 

Emanating from discussions in 2019 with Catalyst 2030, a social entrepreneurship policy initiative, and run on a shoestring with a tiny staff reliant on volunteers and funded by friends and supporters, The People’s Report also wants its data to be used to formulate future policies.

 

“Social entrepreneurs want to collaborate in order to achieve the SDGs” says Sani, “but there are many different social entrepreneurs working towards the SDGs in silos across the different thematic areas.

 

“They have the same goals, but collaboration is hard to come by and what often happens is that there’s not enough funding or resources and you end up competing against those you should be working with because of the way the ecosystem has been put together.

 

“A lot of social entrepreneurs are therefore just surviving, rather than thriving, and that’s the piece of the jigsaw that most fascinates me: how do we shift the sector from survive mode and thrive.”

 

A collaboration between Catalyst 2030, the Social Progress Imperative and Play Verto, The People’s Report’s aim is to measure the reality of peoples’ lives in relation to the SDGs. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the partners’ networks. Eleven questions were posed to ordinary people accessed through the networks of Catalyst 2030 and other initiatives including the Social Progress Index.

 

 

 

 

They were answered by people on the world’s front lines: from the townships of South Africa, sex workers in India, Syrians in refugee camps, truck drivers in Australia, rose growers in Bogota, and office workers in Japan.

 

The inaugural survey found nearly two-thirds of respondents stating that they are experiencing the direct effects of climate change in their daily lives. Some 50% said they cannot trust their governmental leaders to address the issue. Asked whether they would choose to raise children in their communities in the current worsening environment, 34% of respondents replied in the negative.

 

The poll found that 34% of respondents under the age of 51 reported worsening mental health since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread evidence that they are living in the climate emergency, with 79% of respondents in the Indian subcontinent and 63% overall saying they had personally witnessed biodiversity loss.

 

The reality of hunger was also evident, with Africa (32%) and the Indian subcontinent (24%) reporting the highest levels, but 15% of North Americans and 14% of Europeans also saying they go to bed hungry. The impact of COVID-19 was clearly seen as 43% of respondents saying they had lost their income.

 

Lack of trust in governments emerged as a real problem, with 57% citing this in the Middle East and North Africa and one-third of all respondents stating that different views were not respected in their communities.

 

Finally, the survey identified a genuine fear for the future, with 42% of people in the Middle East and North Africa expressing little confidence in the future.

 

Sani and his partners are now planning much bigger Peoples Reports over the remaining eight years until the UN’s deadline. “The call to arms was ‘What’s your story?’” he says.

 

“We wanted to get the realities of as many people as possible at a particular point in time, with the goal of taking that back to the UN. It’s not about pointing out where their data is wrong and our data is right, but just to offer up our ideas so we can all work together with fresh and vivid information.

 

“We’ve got nine years to achieve the SDGs and this is the state of our realities according to the people facing them. We hope it can help form a unified voice to help better shape strategies based on need and a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not.

 

“If we’re going to set forth such an ambitious plan as achieving the SDGs, we really need to have our finger on the pulse. Now we have the data to take this forward.”

Source: Driving Change

Andrew Cave

Andrew Cave is a British business journalist who has written for The Daily Telegraph for 24 years in London and New York, rising to be Associate City Editor before switching to freelance writing in 2005. He also penned columns for Forbes Magazine for six years and has written five books on leadership and management.

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Editorials

Rebranding Public Service

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Public service needs a rebranding.

It needs to emphasize that it is one of the best ways individuals can make a significant difference to society, which should help it compete with tech giants and other private sector employers for the brightest and best talent.

By Andrew Cave, Driving Change

That’s the view of Jeffrey Neal, who has spent his career in public sector human resources, including nine years as Human Resources director for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and two years as Chief Human Capital Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

Now running consulting firm ChiefHRO, he believes one major problem in attracting the talent it needs is that “government doesn’t promote or market itself very well,” sometimes because it is prohibited from doing so.

 

“There are some people who think that government should never tout government,” he says, “but the reality is that if you want to recruit talent, you have to market. I think an increased focus on public service would be a very good thing.

 

“Another problem is that a lot of federal government agencies don’t recruit well. They do what some people in the HR field refer to as ‘post and pray’, where you post a job listing and pray that somebody qualified will apply for it. That’s not recruiting.

 

Recruitment Strategy 1: Focus on providing people with interesting work.

 

“What it ends up giving you is lower-caliber candidates who are not what you need. Federal agencies need to put some resources behind developing their human resources capabilities. They don’t do that very well in most agencies right now.”

 

Neal’s experience working in U.S. government agencies focused on science saw him recruit physicists, chemists, and metallurgists, while at the DLA he hired supply chain management personnel including buyers and inventory managers to handle material in warehouses.

 

He believes public sector recruitment is misunderstood, partly because it is impossible to generalize about its wide range of agencies, occupations, and skillsets.

 

However, he is adamant that merely focusing on the pay gap between public and private sectors misses the point. “When you look at high-caliber talent, is it about money or also intellect, willingness to work, creativity, and character?” he asks.

 

“I would make the argument that a person who is very bright and who is only interested in making money for himself or herself is not a high-caliber person. They are a greedy, self-centered person. In my definition of high-caliber, I would exclude people who are greedy and self-centered. I think there are very smart people who are interested in things other than going to the highest bidder.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 2: Hire beginners.

 

When working for DHS during the Obama administration, Neal saw how young people were drawn to public service when they thought they could make a difference. When Obama was elected, a wave of smart, energetic, and very enthusiastic people infused the administration with creativity and dynamism after working on the presidential campaign.

 

“They were exceptional young people who any organization would be thrilled to have,” he says. “We have to figure out what’s going to attract them, and we can’t do it with money. Governments can’t compete with the private sector in terms of money.

 

“If you look at what some of those jobs would have to pay to truly compete on a financial basis with the private sector, you’d have to be paying people five, six, or seven times the national average income and that just doesn’t sit well with people.

 

“The fact that it’s what the labor market says you should pay someone is irrelevant because people think differently about government. They don’t want government to be a place to go to get rich.”

 

Neal believes government recruitment should focus instead on providing people with interesting work. When working for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., a chemist won a Nobel Prize for work he carried out there.

 

 

 

 

“He worked his entire career there,” says Neal. “He could have gone out and easily made ten times what the Naval Research Lab paid him, but the lab allowed him to do basic research in the kind of science he wanted to do so he stayed for decades.”

 

Different agencies use contrasting approaches. At the DLA, Neal says 25,000 people were employed at an agency with annual sales of $40bn but there was such a broad focus that it was very difficult to find private sector applicants with the necessary experience.

 

Instead, the agency hired entry level people and developed talent internally. This added complexity to the hiring process, with the agency having to project forward what its needs would be because training inventory management and contracting specialists took about two years. However, it proved successful, and the agency still uses this approach.

 

At the DHS, meanwhile, there were 200,000 civilian employees, plus 40,000 in the military and U. S. Coast Guard and recruitment had to contend with the scale of operations and with bureaucracy and red tape.

 

“They had to hire a lot of people both at the entry level and mid-career and still struggle with a lot of their hiring,” says Neal. “The contract specialists at the buying end of the operations have to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which runs to 1,000 pages of requirements.

 

“Whereas you can find buyers in the private sector, they don’t know a thing about the FAR so a very experienced buyer who doesn’t have extensive training in it will fail because they don’t know what’s legal and what’s not and they can’t do the job because they don’t know the rules.”

 

Recruitment Strategy 3: Look to other sectors.

 

With The Transportation Security Administration’s 60,000-strong workforce, moreover, an issue was that the private sector didn’t have a lot of people doing similar work.

 

The solution was to hire straight from school and train people. “It may seem odd, but their hiring is more closely related to hiring for a department store or fast-food restaurant than it is for a law enforcement organization,” says Neal.

 

One skill that Neal finds clearly lacking in government is in cybersecurity, where the labor and jobs market are out of alignment, with huge demand for the limited supply of specialists.

 

As for a world where people can seamlessly switch in and out of public service, Neal feels it will take time to develop. “What it will require is less division in our society,” he says. “I do think it’s possible. We just have to get people interested in being a little less selfish. I’m not optimistic it’s going to happen soon.”

Source: Driving Change

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Agriculture

More than 65 groups call to fundamentally reorient its approach to global policy development on food and agriculture issues.

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On World Food Day, more than 65 groups call for more just approach to policy development and multilateralism
October 14, 2021
Today, in advance of World Food Day, more than 65 United States-based farmers, food and trade justice advocates delivered a letter to the Biden administration urging the U.S. government to fundamentally reorient its approach to global policy development on food and agriculture issues.

Urgently needed reform to agriculture and farm policy must prioritize the rights and livelihoods of workers, food producers and frontline communities; ensure food security through food sovereignty in the U.S. and abroad; mitigate climate change and restore biodiversity; and address corporate power throughout global food systems. A reoriented approach would better align with the administration’s commitments to human and worker rights, racial and gender justice, trade reform and addressing climate change.

“The previous administration did everything possible to further entrench the stranglehold of corporate agribusiness over the world’s food supply by trampling worker rights and denying small scale farmers world-wide their right to grow the crops they wish, in the manner they wish to feed their own populations. We demand better from the Biden administration. Human rights cannot be ‘bestowed’ by governments or corporations, they can only be recognized and respected. Rather than telling people and farmers what they need, the Biden administration must, in the spirit of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ask them what they need. U.S. federal agencies and government officials, especially those working directly with the United Nations, must work to achieve those needs rather than continuing to promote the profit-oriented agendas of multinational agribusiness,” says Jim Goodman, Board President of the National Family Farm Coalition.

The organizations sent the letter amid three major international events related to food and nutrition security: The controversial United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), a forum for advancing corporate agribusiness interests held in New York in late September; the U.N. Committee on the World Food Security (U.N. CFS) plenary currently underway; and World Food Day on October 16. The letter also comes as a response to the experiences of civil society as it engaged in food and agricultural policymaking at the CFS earlier in the year, where the U.S. delegation systematically sought to block human rights centered approaches, even as other delegations sought to advance human rights as key to food system transformations and universal food and nutrition security. In the wake of these events at the summit and during the CFS plenary, the demands of the food, farm and trade justice advocates for just, human-rights centered food system transformations are timely and must be heard.

The letter encourages a new direction for U.S. government engagement with the CFS and the three Rome-based food and agriculture agencies. These U.N. agencies and policy fora are critical spaces for technical, logistical and financial support to small-scale food producers worldwide, as well as political dialogue for inclusive policy development. Yet, in these spaces, the U.S. government has continued to promote a policy agenda that supports the narrow interests of corporate agribusiness, and recently, the U.S. delegation to the U.N food and agriculture agencies has been defiant and obstructionist of CFS policy processes.

“The collective force of social movements and civil society from all regions of the world has uplifted basic human rights to be included in policy negotiations at the Committee on World Food Security. We will defend our space and the mandate of the CFS. We ask that the U.S. government recognize this commitment to end hunger and food insecurity through food sovereignty and agroecology and support our efforts,” says Patti Naylor, member of Family Farm Defenders and National Family Farm Coalition, who facilitates the North American civil society regional representation to the CFS.

The letter identifies five key steps the U.S. government must take to reorient food and agriculture policy. Priority reform areas include human rights; racial justice; trade; addressing the climate, biodiversity, food and water crisis through agroecology; and strengthening participatory, multilateral policymaking.

On World Food Day, as the U.S. is reentering the global community under President Biden’s leadership, the U.S. should fully support the U.N. system as the most transformative multilateral space for international cooperation towards shared goals.

National Family Farm Coalition mobilizes family farmers and ranchers to achieve fair prices, vibrant communities, and healthy foods free of corporate domination.

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Mobilized TV on Free Speech TV  takes a deep look at our world, the consequences of human activity on our planet, and how we can reverse and prevent existing and future crises from occurring. Mobilized reveals life on our planet as a system of systems which all work together for the optimal health of the whole. The show delves into deep conversations with change-makers so people can clearly take concerted actions.

Produced by Steven Jay and hosted by Jeff Van Treese.

Mobilized’s TV series Mobilized TV  premieres on Free Speech TV on Friday, October 15, 2021. All episodes appear:

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October 15, 16, 27
Many communities of native Americans have been subject to irreparable harm, and now there are some who are trying to indoctrinate them into their form of religion. We take a deep dive into conversation with Lakota Sioux Tribeswoman, Davidica Little Spotted Horse as she brings us up to speed of issues that should concern us all.

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The overwhelming news being shoved down our throats on a daily basis is having a debilitating effect our our mental and emotional health. While many people seem to feel powerless, there are a lot of actions that people can take. Mobilized.news gives you a front row seat to the change that you can create in the world when we speak with Rob Moir, Executive Director of leading environmental organization, The Ocean River Institute.

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