It was a big day yesterday for the third National Security Cutter (NSC), Stratton. The Coast Guard and industry partners not only laid the keel, marking the beginning of the ship’s construction, but also announced the cutter would be sponsored by the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
As the cutter’s sponsor, the First Lady’s initials were ceremoniously welded into the keel during yesterday’s events. Serving as Stratton’s sponsor is an extension of Mrs. Obama commitment to supporting America’s men and women in uniform and their families. The NSC Stratton is also the first white-hull patrol cutter to be named after a woman in 20 years and only one of about 10 Coast Guard cutters with a female namesake.
From the Wall Street Journal - An op-ed co-written by Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder:
Five years ago this week, the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Acts Upon the United States released the "9/11 Commission Report," a comprehensive review of the circumstances and actions leading up to, including, and following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Report's concluding chapter offered a set of recommendations to dramatically refocus the federal government's efforts to prevent and prepare for future terrorist attacks.
While the scope of the Commission's recommendations was comprehensive, the ultimate goal was straightforward: in order to protect the American people, the many components within our government responsible for national security and law enforcement had to break old habits and communicate with one another more effectively.
Though clear in principle, the goal of interagency cooperation had proven elusive in
practice. Before the attacks of 9/11, federal counterterrorism efforts were impeded by the failure to share key information. As a result, law enforcement officials-the men and women who often serve as the first line of defense against potential attacks-did not always receive the tools and intelligence they needed.
From USA Today, on immigration enforcement:
The Department of Homeland Security is changing the way it tackles illegal immigration, in many cases remaking or rescinding Bush administration policies.
The changes put heavier emphasis on employers, including more investigations of hiring records and fines for violations, says John Morton, assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in DHS.
"We have to come to grips with the market for illegal labor," he says. "To get there, we have to move beyond individual cases."
The arrests of hundreds of illegal workers at a time in raids at factories and meatpacking plants were a visible component of President George W. Bush's immigration enforcement strategy.
The largest workplace raid under the Obama administration was in February, when 28 illegal immigrants were arrested at an engine manufacturer in Bellingham, Wash.
Guidelines issued since then make it clear that raids targeting employees won't be a priority. The agency still will arrest illegal immigrants as it conducts investigations, Morton says, but "we are going to place our focus . first and foremost on the employer."
From the Associated Press, on a first for the Coast Guard and for the First Lady:
In a first for a first lady, Michelle Obama is sponsoring a future Coast Guard cutter.
Construction of the cutter Stratton began Monday in Pascagoula, Miss., when the U.S. Coast Guard and Northrop Grumman laid the ship's keel at the defense contractor's shipyard.
As sponsor, Mrs. Obama promises to be involved in the life of what the service is calling a "national security cutter."
The White House says Mrs. Obama's decision is an extension of her commitment to support servicemembers and their families. The Coast Guard says it's the first time a president's wife has signed on as a sponsor.
Stratton is named after Capt. Dorothy Stratton. She was director of the Guard's women's Reserve during World War II.
2 PM EDT
National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of Cybersecurity and Communications Director Sean McGurk will testify before the House Committee on Homeland 311 Cannon House Office Building
2 PM EDT
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Deputy Director Mike Aytes will testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security about E-Verify
226 Dirksen Senate Office Building
We’ve posted a few stories at this point about the Department’s involvement with the President’s service initiative, United We Serve. A few days ago, a great story by Lisbeth R. went up on Serve.gov about her involvement with Citizen Corps. Citizen Corps is FEMA’s national service program: their goal is to increase the capacity of American communities to respond in emergency situations, and they’ve set up all sorts of opportunities for people to make their families, their homes, and their communities safer.
Since the Real ID Act was passed by Congress four years ago, criticism of this legislation to increase the security of driver's licenses has arisen from many sources, including state governments, privacy groups and travel agents.
The federal law was passed as a response to 9/11. Its purpose was to prevent terrorists from easily obtaining false licenses, enabling them to set up bank accounts, rent living quarters and otherwise blend into American society unnoticed.
Although its intention was good, the Bush administration followed its usual pattern - quickly writing legislation and pushing it through a Republican-controlled Congress without thinking much about problems that could arise.
The National Governors Association has endorsed an alternative to Real ID that is backed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. She was governor of Arizona when that state, along with many others, protested Real ID as too expensive and unworkable from technical and privacy standpoints.
From the Biloxi Sun Herald, on FEMA Administrator Fugate's remarks to the National Governors Association:
The hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 taught residents and officials along the Coast many lessons, but the most important is that federal, state and local governments need to work together to respond and recover.
FEMA Director Craig Fugate told governors from across the country Sunday all levels of government need to work as a team to coordinate response to disasters and see who can help most in different areas.
Fugate was the head of Florida's emergency management department in 2004 when four hurricanes struck that state. He also offered help to Mississippi in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck.
He spoke Sunday as part of a panel discussion on emergency preparedness, along with representatives from Motorola and Travelers Insurance.
"Too often the disaster we prepare for is the last one when we need to look at the ones in the future," he said at the National Governors Association summer meeting.
The conference wraps up today at the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.
3 PM PDT
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference
Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort
Regency Conference Center, Regency Terrace, Main Floor
5 PM PDT
Secretary Napolitano will deliver remarks at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference
Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort
Regency Grand Ballroom
1 PM CDT
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Rabago will lay the keel for the Third National Security Cutter Stratton at the Northrup
1000 Access Road
Today at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in downtown DC, DHS recruitment specialists greeted veterans for a job fair. Attendees got information on career opportunities and how to apply for positions within the department. Over 700 veterans signed up today for more information.
We at DHS want to be a model in veteran hiring in the federal government, and our efforts so far have significantly increased veteran representation within the department. We promote veteran hiring, contracting and procurement in all recruitment efforts, recognizing we owe veterans more than gratitude; at DHS, we feel we owe veterans opportunity.
DHS is hosting a Veterans Job Fair today at the Grand Hyatt from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM EDT. It's open to all active duty, retired, former service, Reserve/National Guard servicemembers and their spouses. Straight from dhs.gov:
July 17, 2009
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel100 H St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Constitution Room A, Level 3B(Take Metro Center stop, exit at 11th
The job fair is open to all active duty, retired, former service, Reserve/National Guard servicemembers and their spouses.
Explore career opportunities in law enforcement, immigration and travel security, prevention and response, and mission support by attending the job fair and talking to representatives.
Learn more about the Department that touches the lives of all Americans and find out how Departmental careers contribute to the mission of defending America. Speak to Department professionals about continuing your service to America.
- How to apply for federal jobs
- Understanding and applying veterans preference in federal hiring
From Federal Computer Week, on the cybersecurity RFI:
The Homeland Security Department wants information from companies on technical solutions that could be used to protect the ".gov" cyber domain used by federal civilian agencies, according to recently published notice.
DHS is interested in products that could be used for its integrated cybersecurity program that includes software and hardware, the department said in a request for information (RFI) published July 15 on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.
The full RFI is classified and vendors interested in the opportunity need to contact the department by July 22.
A letter to the editor of the New York Times from Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton:
I take issue with your assertion that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 287(g) program is "misguided, ineffective and dangerous."
Among other things, the program enables state and local law enforcement officials to deploy resources and manpower in their communities to enforce federal immigration laws, a force multiplier for federal law enforcement.
The program has been effective. Since January 2006, 287(g)-trained officers have identified more than 120,000 people, predominantly in jails, who are in the country illegally and have committed serious crimes while here. Finding and removing these criminal aliens is critical to our nation's overall interior enforcement strategy.
From Government Technology, on FEMA Administrator Fugate's remarks yesterday on disaster response:
The goal of emergency management policy should be not just to respond but also to change the outcomes of natural hazards, and to do that the private sector and communities must be involved, said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate on Thursday at the 2009 Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop in Broomfield, Colo. That includes changing building codes and standards, as well as the language used in mitigating hazards.
Fugate said minimizing the impacts of natural hazards should be the goal and disasters occur from natural hazards because of the way people live and build in the communities. "Floods and hurricanes happen. The hazard itself is not the disaster -- it's our habits, it's how we build and live in those areas, that's the disaster," Fugate said.
Veterans Job Fair
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel
100 H St., N.W.Washington, D.C. 20001
Constitution Room A, Level 3B(Take Metro Center stop, exit at 11th Street)
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona opposed tough new federal requirements for driver's licenses, endorsed legislation on Wednesday to replace the 2005 law with a more flexible and less costly version.
The new legislation maintains some features of the so-called Real ID law, which required states to scrupulously verify the identity of people to whom it issues driver's licenses, including verifying information they submit, like Social Security numbers and birth certificates.
The original measure, prompted by concerns about terrorism, was passed without Senate hearings as an amendment to a spending bill, and has been contested ever since. It requires states to comply with a series of benchmarks by Dec. 31, but no state has been certified as compliant.
The Real ID card is intended to be the only driver's license a person can use when boarding an airplane or entering a federal building.
Ms. Napolitano said the new bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Democrat of Hawaii, was "a bill that if passed and implemented before Dec. 31 of this year will fix a bill that was flawed from the outset."
From the Associated Press, on cartel violence in Mexico:
Ongoing concerns that drug-related violence in Mexico poses a threat to American communities remain the Obama administration's border focus, the federal government's border czar said Wednesday.
Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Alan Bersin, who visited Arizona's busiest commercial port here on Wednesday, said those concerns have triggered a series of border security initiatives and brought about closer cooperation with Mexican federal authorities.
"We take the threat of spillover violence very seriously," Bersin said. "We're prepared to deal with it in the event it occurs. There are contingency plans to respond. But we have not yet seen that violence spill over into the United States."
10 AM EDT
Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations Deputy Director Kumar Kibble will testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security; Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism
311 Cannon House Office Building
10 AM CDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Jon Allen will participate in a media
event announcing the installation of CT-80 Explosives Detection
System (EDS) equipment
University of Illinois Willard Airport11 Airport RoadSavoy, Ill.
11:30 AM EDT
TSA Public Affairs Manager Lara Uselding will participate in a
media event at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to
showcase new AT X-ray machines
Newark Liberty International Airport
The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review launches a new phase today.
The Office of Strategic Planning (OSP) is taking something that’s usually somewhat humdrum and using it to build a pretty cool new process.
Basically, based on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report, Congress mandated some time ago that DHS complete an internal review this year (and every four years hereafter) and report recommendations about strategy, programs, policies, and capabilities. But Congress left it up to OSP to determine just what that the review – the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) would look like.
The entire review will be unclassified, which makes it a little unconventional from the start. The whole process is also creatively set up in a way that acknowledges that many individuals—at multiple levels of government as well as outside the government—make decisions and provide expertise that contribute to homeland security.
Earlier this year, Secretary Napolitano invited representatives from every part of this broader homeland security community to contribute position papers to a public document library. This means that input from academics, experts, think tanks, professional associations, and more—all specialists in areas under the homeland security umbrella—all helped inform the QHSR’s frame of reference.
From there, the study groups—each made up of DHS officials and facilitated by an independent expert to ensure all viewpoints are represented and opinions heard—will examine focus areas (law enforcement and security, intelligence, etc.). Here’s where it gets really interesting, though: they’re going to be using a web-based collaborative dialogue platform for these studies, which means that all stakeholders, individuals or organizations with recognized homeland security roles and members of the general public can participate.
You can participate by logging on to http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org/ today to pre-register for the upcoming dialogues. Follow along, join the conversation, and share your ideas on what you think the study groups should focus on.
After all this, Secretary Napolitano and a 13-member Executive Committee (made up of the Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence, among others) will analyze the study groups’ recommendations and present their findings to Congress before we ring in the new year.
Web-based collaborative? Defining what DHS will look like for the next four years? Sounds like we'll have som New Year's resolutions.
The Department is committed to increased collaboration between government and industry representatives. In May, President Obama noted in the first-ever Presidential address on cybersecurity:
“[i]t's the great irony of our Information Age -- the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy. And this paradox -- seen and unseen -- is something that we experience every day.”At Industry Day, DHS highlighted the need for private industry to become more involved in developing comprehensive, game-changing, innovative solutions that improve and expand upon our current capabilities to protect, detect, and respond to cyber incidents. The recent denial of service (DoS) incident only underscores that point. Our RFI is the next step in reaching out to stakeholders to assist us in advancing our capability to secure the nation’s critical cyber infrastructure and address future cyber challenges. For more information, we encourage you to visit FedBizOpps or email CIVendorInfo@dhs.gov.