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July 25, 2009
9:00 am

USCIS conducted a special naturalization ceremony last week for a man we’re referring to as Dr. Brown. Why was the ceremony so special, and why aren’t we using his real name? Well, Dr. Brown is the first nonimmigrant to become a citizen of the United States under the pilot Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. MAVNI allows nonimmigrants to enlist in the Army and apply for citizenship even though they do not hold permanent resident status. So, Dr. Brown was the first, and his story is pretty incredible.

For starters, and as we already mentioned, that’s not actually his name; it’s a pseudonym used at the Army’s request to protect his family still in Pakistan. Dr. Brown, who qualified for the MAVNI program as a licensed medical professional, is also fluent in Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi. He originally came to the U.S. on a student visa and later received a temporary visa to work as a dentist. He is the first member of his family to become a U.S. citizen, and the first to serve in the U.S. military. More impressive firsts.

USCIS and DHS worked with the Defense Department before the Army launched the pilot program to enlist up to 1,000 non-citizens earlier this year. USCIS continues to work with the Army to expedite possessing of naturalization applications from non-citizens joining the Army through this pilot program.

Dr. Brown told us he was not only impressed with USCIS’ efficiency in processing his application in less than a month, but that he was extremely honored to become a citizen of the United States – he said it was the best day of his life.

Dr. Brown: Welcome.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 24, 2009
4:21 pm
First of all, for those of you who average 47 seconds per visit to The Blog: you may want to stick around and give this post a full read. We’re breaking some news on The Blog today, and it involves your tax dollars.

Turns out our Office of Management just saved us a little money. Here was the official summary:
“In response to the Management Action Directive, Software Licenses, DHS’ Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) consolidated all component requirements for Microsoft software licensing and maintenance into a single enterprise-wide
procurement…”

The Management Action Directive (try not to think too hard about the acronym) ordered that all Microsoft software contracts for our offices and components (ICE, CBP, USCIS, etc.) be merged into one contract for the entire department. Previously, each of the components negotiated separate contracts, so this solution saves - and I think this is the technical term - a BOATLOAD of money. The Coast Guard can check my math on that.

In layman’s terms, it’s $87 million dollars. Which is a lot, whether you’re a layman or otherwise.

Here’s the breakdown:
  • Software Licensing: $82M
  • 24 X 7 Problem Resolution Support: $5.1M
  • Training Vouchers: $315K
  • Packaged Services: $90K
  • Estimated Total Savings/Cost Avoidance: $87.5M

Where then, you might you ask, does this savings end up? The answer is simple: mission-critical activities. We’ll take the savings from the elimination of printed reports, periodical subscriptions, conferences and travel, and invest that money in programs that strengthen our borders, secure air travel, and provide cutting edge technology to improve our operational efforts. These are programs worthy of your tax dollars. This is smart spending.

We’ll keep you up-to-date on the Efficiency Review, because saving money can actually be interesting.

Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 24, 2009
1:05 pm
We were deeply shocked this morning to learn of the murder of a member of the DHS family: Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas was shot and killed last night in the line of duty while on patrol in San Diego County, California. DHS is working with the FBI and local law enforcement on the investigation, and a manhunt is underway for the gunmen who killed Agent Rosas.

The Secretary's statement from earlier today:

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of our own. Agent Robert Rosas was gunned down while protecting our nation’s Southwest border. This act of violence will not stand—nor will any act of violence against the Border Patrol. I have directed that the full resources of the Department assist in the investigation to find and bring to justice those responsible for this inexcusable crime.

My thoughts and condolences are with Agent Rosas’ family and his fellow agents at this difficult time. I want to commend those in the law enforcement and first responder community in Southern California for so quickly responding to the scene and attempting to save Agent Rosas’ life. His death is a vivid reminder that we are engaged in a serious effort to secure our border and that thousands of Border Patrol agents and other DHS employees risk their lives every single day to protect and defend our nation.”
CBP flags across the country are at half-staff today in Agent Rosas' honor. Our thoughts are with his family and all who knew him.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 24, 2009
9:09 am
From The Washington Post, on labor-management talks at TSA:

It's not unusual for labor and management to talk about their differences.

But when Transportation Security Administration officials met with union leaders Thursday, they described the session as "historic."

It was the first-ever formal labor-management meeting between the agency and the union and the beginning of what labor leaders hope will be a relationship that could lead to TSA employees winning the right to collective bargaining in the near
future.

Labor leaders, shut out during the Bush administration, placed gaining collective bargaining rights for transportation security officers -- the screeners who make sure no one takes dangerous items on airplanes -- at the top of their agenda when the Obama administration took office.

"The past eight years with the Bush administration have been an uphill battle, and we are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel," said American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage.Currently, unions can recruit officers as members, but labor organizations do not have the right to bargain on their behalf. Congress is considering legislation that would provide
that ability.


From HS Today, on the department's 9/11 Commission progress report:

One of the most important areas of concern to the 9/11 Commission members in their final report was the improvement of intelligence collection and dissemination across the board throughout government. In marking the fifth anniversary of the issuance of the 9/11 Commission Report Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano released a progress report outlining advancements in the Department’s capabilities to protect against and respond to acts of terrorism and other threats.

Not surprisingly, the report outlined the many actions that DHS has taken since it was created to improve and broaden the functioning of counterterrorism intelligence gathering, analysis, and sharing.

“The 9/11 Commission’s recommendations have in many ways set the course for the Department’s efforts to combat security threats,” said Napolitano. “We have answered these challenges by building an agency far better equipped to combat terrorism, and we will continue to expand these capabilities as we move forward in our mission to keep America safe and secure.”


Leadership Events
11:45 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano and the National Security Preparedness Group will participate in a media availability
DHS Headquarters, Building 21
Nebraska Avenue Complex
3801 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC

Public Events
10:00 AM CDT
Director of National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) Cyber Exercises Program Brett Lambo will deliver remarks at the National Association of Counties 2009 Annual Conference about DHS cybersecurity efforts
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, Tenn.

1 PM CDT
NPPD Office of Emergency Communications Deputy Director Taylor Heard will deliver remarks about OEC’s resources for local governments at the National Association of Counties 2009 Annual Conference
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Delta Ballroom B
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, Tenn.

1 PM EDT
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate will participate in a media availability following his meeting with New England Emergency Management Directors
FEMA Region I Headquarters
99 High Street
Boston, Mass.

2 PM EDT
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will attend the change of command ceremony for the First Coast Guard District
Integrated Support Command Boston
427 Commercial Street
Boston, Mass.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 23, 2009
6:06 pm
National Protection and Programs Directorate Under Secretary Rand Beers sat down with the DHS press corps last week to answer questions and talk about the Secretary's trip to Europe and the Middle East. He spoke broadly about DHS’ counterterrorism and cybersecurity efforts, emphasizing the need for cooperation with international partners. He took a few other questions from reporters as well—here are some of the highlights:




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Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 23, 2009
10:16 am
From the Associated Press, on the relaunch of dhs.gov:

The Homeland Security Department relaunched its Web site Wednesday and became the first Cabinet-level agency to follow the tech-savvy White House directives on social media.

President Barack Obama's aides have been urging agencies to add interactive components to their Web sites, such as videos and blogs. But it's been a slow start for a team that harnessed the Internet during the presidential campaign to organize supporters and deliver the White House.

The White House touted the Homeland Security Department's online presence as a model for other agencies. The department redesigned its own Web site to offer more opportunities for citizens to interact and launched a YouTube channel to post online videos.


From Federal News Radio, on the department's 9/11 Commission progress report:

Five years to the day the 9/11 Commission issued its report, the Homeland Security Department released a progress report outlining the advancements it has made.

The Commission identified intelligence failures occurring before the 2001 terrorist attacks. It also suggested recommendations to help prevent a similar attack.

Among DHS's new policies, initiatives and grants created since 9/11, the progress report reflects the department's focus on enhanced science and technology.

DHS says in a release it has increased transportation security by conducting 100 percent screenings for all checked and carry-on baggage through more than 500 explosive detection systems deployed to every major U.S. airport.


Leadership Events
11:00 AM EDT
Secretary Napolitano, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Education Secretary Arne Duncan , John Brennan and Dr. Anne Schuchat will participate in a media availability
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Upper Atrium
Washington D.C.

1:20 PM EDT
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) and the Asset Forfeiture Program National Leadership Conference
Omni Shoreham Hotel
Regency Ballroom
2500 Calvert Street
Washington, D.C.

Public Events
10 AM EDT
USCIS Deputy Associate Director of National Security and Records Verification Gerri Ratliff will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement about E-Verify
2154 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C

10 AM EDT
TSA Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), Office of Law Enforcement Director Robert Bray will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight about personnel challenges faced by FAMS
311 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 22, 2009
12:57 pm

Today, the department proudly unveiled an updated dhs.gov. We've been working on the "new look and feel" for sometime, and we're happy to finally share it with you. The new design and navigation reflects Secretary Napolitano's five major responsibilities, and makes it easier for users to find information. We relied on extensive user input and search analysis to help us in the redesign, and want your feedback. Check it out.
 

 
We're also launching the department's new official YouTube channel. President Obama continually emphasizes the need for more transparency and access, and YouTube is a social media tool that helps us do just that. We'll use it to highlight events, speeches, public service announcements and other related content. We'll continue to move forward with the use of web 2.0 tools, allowing the Department to communicate its message and broadcast content with a human face and voice to an audience eager for more transparency and access.

“Social media plays an increasingly large role as we engage with the public, especially in the event of an incident or disaster,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “These new tools help us communicate directly and facilitate immediate dialogue about the Department’s security efforts across the nation and around the world.”
 Check out the new look at dhs.gov, and our new Youtube channel.
 Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 22, 2009
9:26 am
On July 22nd, 2004, the 9/11 Commission released its official report on the September 11 terrorist attacks, detailing the circumstances and our preparedness regarding the attacks themselves, but also providing recommendations on how best to guard against future attacks.

So, it's five years later. Where are we, as a department, on implementing those recommendations, and how do we plan to move forward?

Secretary Napolitano today released a report outlining the department's progress on the Commission’s recommendations. You can check out the highlights on dhs.gov, or you can read the full report.

On Friday, Secretary Napolitano will meet with members of the National Security Preparedness Group—a bipartisan coalition of national security experts including former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge and co-chaired by former 9/11 Commission Chair Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton.
At the meeting, Secretary Napolitano will discuss the Department’s progress in securing the country against the challenges the Commission outlined and confronting an ever-changing array of threats to homeland security, including cybersecurity and bioterrorism. More on that after the meeting.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 22, 2009
8:43 am
From the Bangor Daily News, on a local endorsement of Pass ID:

Just back from the summer meeting of the National Governors Association, Gov. John Baldacci said Tuesday he is endorsing the Pass ID proposal of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

"We need to strengthen our driver's licenses, and we need to require a lawful presence requirement," he said. "It eliminates the fees currently assessed to states to use existing federal databases. It eliminates all the data-sharing mandates. It adds flexibility to the states."

Baldacci said the Pass ID legislation is designed to replace the controversial Real ID law that Maine and other states have opposed. While governor of Arizona, Napolitano opposed Real ID but said the new proposal fixes the problems she saw in the Real ID law.

"Pass ID provides a strong yet flexible framework for states to implement secure identification," she said. "I am proud to join our nation's governors in supporting Pass ID - a cost-effective, common-sense solution that balances critical security requirements with the input and practical needs of state governments."


From the Grand Rapids Press, on a USCIS naturalization ceremony in Michigan:

New United States citizens stand for the administration of the oath during the naturalization ceremony at the Gerald R. Ford Museum Tuesday afternoon.

The multi-hued group gathered Tuesday at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum proved the point: Citizenship is more coveted than ever.

Approximately 80 immigrants from 52 countries as varied as Somalia, Chile and India raised their right hand for the oath of citizenship, as record numbers are doing.

Department of Homeland Security data show the number of immigrants naturalized in the United States grew from about 660,000 in 2007 to more than 1 million in 2008 -- an increase of roughly 58 percent.

A decade ago, about two-thirds of the eligible immigrants who had been in the United States for more than 20 years were naturalized. Now, about three-quarters of such long-term residents have become citizens.


Public Events
9:15 AM EDT
Acting Director of the National Cyber Security Division Dr. Peter Fonash will deliver remarks at the Pre-Solicitation Conference Certification and Accreditation and Other Security Services event MITRE-3 Headquarters
7515 Colshire Drive
McLean, Va.

10 AM EDT
USCIS Service Center Operations Deputy Chief Robert Kruszka will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the EB-5 (investor visa) regional center program
226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C

10:30 AM EDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Lara Uselding will participate in a media event about the deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology
Port Jefferson Ferry Terminal
102 West Broadway
Port Jefferson, N.Y.

11:30 AM CDT
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will deliver remarks at the National Naval Officer’s Association Professional Development and Training Conference
Westin Galleria Houston
Plaza Ballroom
5060 West Alabama St.
Houston, Texas

1:55 PM EDT
NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Philip Reitinger will deliver remarks at the DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate Cyber-Physical Systems Security Workshop
Hilton Newark Penn Station-Gateway Center
Newark, N.J.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 21, 2009
2:06 pm
Bald eagle in flight. Photo by Art Bromage under a Creative Commons license You may have read media accounts that our headquarters consolidation project at St. Elizabeths could endanger a pair of nesting bald eagles. But much of what has been written is inaccurate. In fact, we are taking great care to not disturb the eagles’ habitat. I want to take this opportunity to explain what the Department and the General Services Administration (GSA), which is developing the campus on our behalf, is doing to preserve the habitat.

The bald eagle is revered by the Department just as it is by all Americans. As the symbol of our country, it is on the Great Seal of the United States of America and is represented on the Department’s seal as well. From the outset, therefore, we have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to preserving the eagle habitat.

The eagles’ nest is not on the St. Elizabeths Campus property. However, GSA worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service in developing the project’s Master Plan to identify and preserve a buffer of land associated with the eagle habitat. The Environmental Impact Statement further determined that redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths West Campus would not have any kind of adverse impact on the eagles. Most importantly, there is no development planned in the buffer area.

A new access road for the 14,000 DHS employees who will work at St. Elizabeths will run along the western St. Elizabeths property line and through the National Park Service (NPS) Shepherd Parkway, directly adjacent to Route 295. The access road does not run through the protected zone for the eagles. Our plan has the access road located as close to the property line and route 295 as possible, which maximizes the distance from the eagle protection zone. GSA has offered to transfer the eagle protection acreage on the St. Elizabeths West Campus to the NPS as mitigation for the impact of the new access road running through their property.

We will monitor construction and development activities to ensure the habitat remains intact. And we will continue to responsibly develop St. Elizabeths to meet our mission, while respecting its rich heritage, its National Historic Landmark status, and all of our neighbors - including the residents of Ward 8 and our nesting eagles. We look forward to the day when the American and Department of Homeland Security flags will fly at St. Elizabeths along with the eagles.

Elaine Duke
Under Secretary, Management
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.

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