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July 28, 2009
9:02 am
From the Associated Press, on the Secretary's visit to Washington yesterday:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano got a tour Monday of a $4 million Olympics Coordination center that in six months should be a bustling hub of counterterrorism and security operations for the 2010 Winter Games in nearby British Columbia.

The tour at the command center in Bellingham, just south of the U.S.-Canadian border, was one of several stops in a jam-packed visit to the state.

Napolitano also visited the border crossing in Blaine, Wash. - the main entry into British Columbia from Washington. Later in the day, she met with federal and state government officials in Seattle to discuss port security and immigration, and visited Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond to talk about cybersecurity.

Napolitano said security of government Web sites is a key and new goal for Homeland Security, and the department has been recruiting staff across the country.

"I like to say in this area, we don't need to be playing catch up. We need to be leap-frogging,' she said. "We need to be thinking ahead of what the next line needs to be. This is such rapidly changing threat environment."


Interested in a career in cybersecurity? Check this out from CNet:

The U.S. government on Monday launched a national talent search for high school and college students interested in working in cybersecurity.

With the U.S. Cyber Challenge the goal is to find 10,000 young Americans to be "cyber guardians and cyber warriors," according to a statement from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, which is sponsoring the event.

…Candidates with promising skills will be invited to attend regional camps at local colleges beginning next year. The top candidates will be hired by the National Security Agency, the FBI, Defense Department, US-CERT, and the U.S. Department of Energy Laboratories.


Public Events
10 AM EDT
Alexander G. Garza, M.D., Presidential Nominee for the position of DHS Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, will testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about his confirmation
342 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC

2 PM MDT
Denver DSAC Paul Maldonado will participate in a press conference announcing the initial results of an ICE-led investigation of Salt Lake City’s largest immigration firm for fraudulently obtain H-2B employment visas for hundreds of unqualified alien workers
185 South Street
Salt Lake City, Utah
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
July 27, 2009
2:23 pm

The Secretary met Friday with the National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG) to discuss the department's progress in implementing the recommendations outlined in the 9/11 Commission Final Report released five years ago this week. The NSPG includes former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and is co-chaired by former 9/11 Commission Chair Thomas H. Kean and Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton. The group held a press conference after the meeting, and that video is below.

 

 

July 27, 2009
9:39 am
From the Associated Press, on the National Level Exercise:

The government is conducting its first-ever nationwide exercise Monday aimed at preventing a terrorist attack.

The five-day exercise, being coordinated by the Homeland Security Department, will involve simulated "real life" scenarios, with a focus on preventing a terrorist from entering the U.S. to carry out an attack. Also participating will be officials from the Pentagon, office of the Director of National Intelligence as well as the Justice and State departments.

The exercise will take place at command posts and field locations in Washington, D.C., in addition to Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and California.

Homeland Security spokesman Clark Stevens says the simulations will most likely not affect or be seen by the public.

Previous nationwide exercises have focused on terror response efforts rather
than prevention.


From the Associated Press, on preparations for the Olympics:

When the 2010 winter Olympics open in Vancouver next February, representatives of state, local and federal law enforcement and emergency response agencies will gather 45 miles south, at a new $4 million communications center at Bellingham International Airport.

Whether they'll have much to do there remains an open question. The Department of Homeland Security has called the facility a key site for counterterrorism and security operations leading up to the games, and officials say a key goal is to make sure travelers move across the border safely and quickly.

But in the past three years, estimates of how much traffic the Winter Games will generate in Washington state have dropped dramatically, from early guesses of 2,000 cars a day, roughly the equivalent of a busy summer day, to as few as 400, according to studies by the Whatcom Council of Governments.

"Even when we thought we were looking at an additional 2,000 cars a day, the Olympics traffic volume didn't seem like something that would overwhelm the resources in place," said Hugh Conroy, a project manager with the council who has studied the traffic implications of the games. "It's basically gone from being like a busy summer day to a busy winter day."


Leadership Events
8:45 AM PDT
Secretary Napolitano will participate in a media availability with Governor Chris Gregoire and U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen
2010 Olympics Coordination Center
3888 Sound Way
Bellingham, Wash.

10:30 AM PDT
Secretary Napolitano, Governor Gregoire and Congressman Larsen will tour the Peace Arch border crossing
Interstate 5 at the U.S.-Canada Border
Blaine, Wash.

12:45 PM PDT
Secretary Napolitano and Governor Gregoire will participate in a media availability
Joint Harbor Operations Center
U.S. Coast Guard Integrated Support Command
1519 Alaskan Way South
Seattle, Wash.

Public Events
9 AM CDT
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air & Marine Operations will participate in a media availability to display the newly acquired Advanced Concept Demonstrator (ACTD) Vessel
CBP Brownsville Marine Unit
502 South Point Dr.
Port Isabel, Texas

10:00 AM EDT
USCG Station Miami Beach Commanding Officer, LT John Corbett, will participate in a media availability about diving and boating safety, harvesting regulations and closed areas for Florida's Mini-Lobster season
Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Miami Beach
100 Macarthur Causeway

1:20 PM EDT
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Cyber Security and Communications (CS&C) Rear Admiral Michael Brown will speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) luncheon
1539 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

2:00 PM EDT
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate will testify before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure about the role of federal government in disasters
2167 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, D.C.

3:05 PM EDT
Brenda Oldfield, Director of Cyber Education and Workforce Development for the National Cyber Security Division, will give a keynote speech at the 3rd Annual “Securing the eCampus” Conference
Hopkins Center for the Arts, Alumni HallDartmouth College
6041 Lower Level Wilson Hall
Hanover, NH
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Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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.

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