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Morning Roundup - September 15th

From the Associated Press, on yesterday's H1N1 small business guidance:

Federal officials said Monday small business owners should be prepared to operate with fewer employees this fall as swine flu spreads across the country.

The Department of Homeland Security is issuing guidelines on combating swine flu to small businesses, which employ about half the workers in the U.S. private sector.

"They play a key role in protecting the health and safety of the country but also their own employees and also helping us limit impact of an H1N1 pandemic on our economy and our country," Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano told reporters.

A guidebook released by the Department of Homeland Security recommends small businesses identify their essential operations and have plans for operating with reduced staffing. The government also says businesses should consider letting employees work from home if they get sick.

Napolitano said small businesses could be particularly vulnerable to a pandemic because they often "have fewer resources, they work with leaner staffs and absenteeism can be a particular issue."

From the Federal Computer Week, on yesterday's "pen and pad" session with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas:

The new director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said today he wants to emphasize public engagement, transparency and information technology modernization of the immigration agency during his term.
To meet those goals, Alejandro Mayorkas said he has created a new Office of Public Engagement and is debuting a new, interactive Web site Sept. 22 that will allow for public feedback on agency policy and proposals. The updated Web site also will allow for greater ease of use and more access to information about pending requests and applications.

USCIS’ involvement with community stakeholders “should be more of a collaborative effort, engaged and interactive,” Mayorkas said. “We want to have the community involved at a level where we can understand what we are doing well -- and what we are doing wrong.”

Another high priority is moving forward on implementing the next stages of the USCIS’ information technology transformation project, which will digitize the agency’s paper-based records systems, Mayorkas said. The project was started in 2005 and is expected to cost more than $500 million.

“We are currently a paper-based agency, and we have to move into the electronic age,” Mayorkas said. “The modernization is already under way. It is of critical importance to the future of this agency, and critically important to me.”


From Xinhua News Agency, on a long overdue return home:

The U.S. government Monday returned some priceless pre-historic fossils to China as a result of two countries' cooperation on fight against transnational crimes.

At a ceremony at the Chinese Embassy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) returned the fossils seized during routine inspections of goods coming into the country.

Deputy Chief of Mission Xie Feng of the Chinese Embassy expressed the heartfelt gratitude to the U.S. government for its efforts to return the fossils to China.

"In recent years, China and the U.S. have developed close cooperation in law enforcement and made steady progress and prominent achievements, particularly in the fields as counter-terrorism, drug enforcement as well as combating other transnational crimes," said Xie.

"Such law enforcement cooperation will benefit the safety of our countries and the protection of our people's lives and property," he said, adding that the fossils would be well placed and preserved in the Geological Museum of China for scientific research.


Public Events
8:30 AM CDT
NPPD Cyber Exercises Program Director Brett Lambo will deliver remarks about current cyber threats at the Minnesota Federal Executive Board (FEB) Cyber Security Exercise
Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building
1 Federal Drive, Suite 510
Saint Paul, Minn.

9:30 AM EDT
Under Secretary for Management Elaine Duke will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement about investment management and acquisition challenges at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
2154 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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