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July 15, 2013
1:17 pm

Posted by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

Editors Note: This was originially posted on the Coast Guard blog, The Coast Guard Compass, on July 11, 2013.

Petty Officer 1st Class Carlin Burnside, a maritime enforcement specialist, mans a mounted automatic weapon during a morning patrol of the Potomac River.

As the summer sun sets over Washington, D.C., the sky turns a spectacular golden hue as members of Coast Guard Station Washington head out for another mission.

From ensuring public safety and security on the water along the country’s most iconic landmarks to multi-agency national security and law enforcement missions, a “typical day” at Station Washington is anything but typical.

While Washington is a seasonal boating area, the commanding officer of the station, Lt. Celina Ladyga, says the crew stays busy all year with operations and special national security events like the presidential inauguration and State of the Union address.

Seaman Alexander Smith fills out documents as he and Coast Guardsmen from Station Washington help a stranded boater during an evening patrol on the Potomac River. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando.“

"It’s really quite a wide breadth of Coast Guard missions that we do here,” said Ladyga.

Station Washington was established after Sept. 11, she said, and its primary responsibility is homeland security.

“We do a heavy amount of protection of maritime critical infrastructure, but we also do all of the traditional Coast Guard missions, such as search and rescue and public boater outreach,” she said.

Station members were active in National Safe Boating Week in May, meeting with local boaters and reminding them of the important tips for staying safe on the water, including always wearing a life vest, filing a float plan and having emergency communication devices.

During another weekend, Station Washington crews conducted patrols for Operation Dry Water, a national crackdown on boaters operating vessels under the influence.

National Safe Boating Week and Operation Dry Water are both multi-agency efforts aimed at keeping the American public safe on the water. Ladyga said maintaining relationships with local, state and federal partners is important, especially with overlapping jurisdictions overlap or complex cases.

“The multi-agency connection and partnerships are very critical in this area,” she said. “Ultimately everybody has the same goal – to ensure the safety and security of the American public.”

Ladyga also shared advice for boaters who are heading out on the Potomac River and other waterways around our nation’s capital.

She said boaters need to have the proper safety equipment, should keep an eye out for anything suspicious and have the necessary contact information for authorities should they observe anything unusual.

“Knowing who to call and how to make that report is a critical piece because it’s really all of our responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the waterway,” said Ladyga.

Chief Petty Officer Jasen Hollopeter runs the station’s day-to-day operations, including scheduling harbor patrols and security and safety zones to keep the public safe.

Petty Officer 1st Class Carlin Burnside, a maritime enforcement specialist with Coast Guard Station Washington, monitors activity on the water during a morning patrol.

Conveniently located in Washington, the station is a popular stop for leaders from other military branches or members of Congress who want to see Coast Guard operations firsthand, said Hollopeter.

“That’s the unique thing about where we are,” he said. “You have all these other branches of service and members of Congress who may not be familiar with Coast Guard operations, so we are their first impression of the Coast Guard.”

Being in Washington also gives crewmembers unique opportunities, such as Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Atkins’ re-enlistment.

“I just re-enlisted at the National Archives. I was able to re-enlist right in front of the U.S. Constitution,” he said proudly, noting that nowhere else would he of had such a magnificent opportunity.

“It was great.”At Station Washington for about a year, Seaman Alexander Smith works on everything as a non-rate – general maintenance, fielding phone calls, working on qualifications and getting underway.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Station Washington. I love it,” said Smith. Smith, who is training to be a boatswain’s mate, doesn’t plan on stopping once he makes petty officer third class.

“I think it would be nice to hear ‘Master Chief Smith,’” he said with a smile. “That would be pretty cool.”

But for now, Smith and the rest of the crew vigilantly standing watch, protecting the American people and living the Coast Guard’s core values in the nation’s capital.

Petty Officer 1st Class Bobby Bonsey, left, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Wilk, both machinery technicians at Coast Guard Station Washington, repair a seat on a Coast Guard boat.

July 10, 2013
1:53 pm

Posted by Rich Serino, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

This was originally posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on July 10, 2012.

This week, President Barack Obama laid out the Administration’s New Management Agenda. As part of a new approach to deliver a smarter, more innovative, and more accountable government, President Obama put forth a plan to more effectively use technology and innovation to better serve and meet the needs of the public. During a press conference, President Obama highlighted some of the innovative and survivor centric solutions that FEMA is implementing:

"Today, our Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, and our Chief Information Officer, Steve VanRoekel, are working with their teams to innovate and apply the best technology to help solve some of our biggest challenges -- from creating jobs to reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure. (…)

First, we found ways to deliver the services that citizens expect in smarter, faster, and better ways. So, for example, until recently, when a natural disaster struck, teams from FEMA had to rely exclusively on in-person inspections to figure out which families needed help. Now they analyze satellite and aerial imagery and get housing assistance to areas that need it most, more quickly. After Hurricane Sandy, most folks were able to sign up for assistance using FEMA’s mobile and web apps -- updating and checking the status of their applications. And FEMA agents went door-to-door in some areas with iPads, helping residents who had lost power and Internet access sign up for disaster relief without leaving their homes. So making sure that we’re delivering services better, faster, more efficiently."

Here at FEMA, we understand the value of innovation and recognize that through innovation we can develop new and creative solutions and deliver these solutions to those that need them the most—survivors. During the initial response to Hurricane Sandy, the FEMA Innovation Team deployed to identify solutions to some of the challenges faced in New York. As the President highlighted, one innovative solution was providing our FEMA Corps teams with the equipment necessary to go door-to-door to register survivors who may have lost power. This solution was so warmly received that we have made it common practice.

After the tornadoes struck Oklahoma, FEMA deployed the newly formed Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams to go door-to-door to register survivors at their homes.

The role of technology has certainly changed the way we operate and serve survivors during their time of need. Our Geospatial Team used geospatial mapping and imagery to provide information to first responders and emergency managers about damaged areas moments after the deadly tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma. We also launched our FEMALab in response to the tornadoes in the National Response Coordination Center, which allowed some of our innovation team members to work virtually.

We continue to look for ways to improve- to find creative solutions to the many challenges we face in emergency management. You can help us to innovate too! Join us for the next FEMA Think Tank on Thursday, July 18th for our latest edition, “Innovation Every Emergency Manager Should Know About” which will cover innovators from around the country. We hope you join us and tell us what you are doing to innovate!

July 8, 2013
4:17 pm

Last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano traveled to Alaska, Russia and the Republic of Korea to advance strategic Homeland Security priorities and meet with our international partners.

 

Secretary Napolitano was in Anchorage, Alaska where she met with Department of Homeland Security personnel stationed in the region. While in Alaska, the Secretary was briefed on a number of issues that the Department, including the U.S. Coast Guard, are focusing on in the region and thanked the personnel for their service.

In Vladivostok, Russia, Secretary Napolitano was joined by Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Daniel Glaser to participate in the 4th Annual International Conference on Security Matters hosted by the Russian Security Council. She also met with international counterparts to discuss a range of security related issues including aviation security, counterterrorism, and international collaboration to ensure global security.

Secretary Napolitano then traveled to Seoul, Republic of Korea to meet with senior Korean officials to discuss global supply chain security, delivered remarks at the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea and participated in a naturalization ceremony for U.S. service members stationed abroad.

While in the Republic of Korea, Secretary Napolitano commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.

DHS works closely with international partners to strengthen the security of the networks of global trade and travel upon which the nation's economy and communities rely. Learn more about DHS’ work with our international partners here.

July 5, 2013
12:33 pm

Editors' Note: This blog originally appeared on the U.S. Department of Treasury's blog, Treasury Notes, on July 3

Posted by Sabrina Siddiqui, spokesperson for Tax, Budget and Economic Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury

Shortly after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, Secretary Lew this morning addressed thirty special guests in Treasury’s historic Cash Room as “fellow Americans” for the first time in their lives. The special moment came during a naturalization ceremony held at the Treasury Department’s headquarters in Washington, DC, and in front of the friends and families of the new citizens.

As the son of immigrants himself, Secretary Lew explained how the United States gave his own family “the promise of freedom and opportunity,” a promise that has taken him far: “Today I stand here as a first generation American and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. That is something my parents could never have foreseen half a century ago.”

The Secretary also addressed the significant economic benefits of welcoming more hard-working immigrants into the U.S. and called for the passage of the bipartisan immigration bill currently before Congress:

  • This comprehensive legislation does a number of things. It strengthens our borders. It provides a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million people who are here illegally. And it will boost economic growth.
  • The bill will drive growth by bringing highly skilled scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to the United States.
  • At the same time,this bill will create a new wave of consumers who will fuel demand and generate economic activity. The effect will be enormous. More new businesses. More new jobs. And more exports.
  • We will also see our deficits shrink, and with added workers on our payrolls, Social Security and Medicare will be put on a more stable footing. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this legislation will lower our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars over the next two decades.

Secretary Lew ended his remarks with some thoughts on Independence Day, saying that on July 4th we not only celebrate the birth of our nation, but the contributions of themillions of immigrants who have helped build America, including the first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, “who built our economy.” The Secretary told the group of new citizens that “we are celebrating all of you, not only for what you have given, but for what you will continue to give to this country—a country whose future we all share.”

Participants were from the following 22 countries: Afghanistan, Belgium, Democratic Republic of Congo,Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Russia, Somalia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The ceremony was part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual celebration of Independence Day. More than 7,800 people will become citizens at more than 100 special ceremonies across the country and around the world from July 1 to July 5.

July 5, 2013
12:26 pm

Editors Note: This post orginially appeared on the U.S. Department of Commerce's blog on July 4.

Posted by U.S. Department of Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Mark Doms

Last Friday, I was given the honor of speaking to about 500 people from 80 countries who took the oath to become U.S. citizens at a ceremony in Sterling, Virginia. The happiness, joy, pride, and gratitude in the room brought tears to my eyes, especially after imagining the collective hardships endured, the journeys taken, and the fears overcome by our new citizens.

Like my family, most of us owe our lives and citizenship to our ancestors who left their homes, families, and friends behind to start a new life in a land of freedom and opportunity. We remain thankful for the incredible journeys and sacrifices they made so that their children could have better lives. Likewise, the children and grandchildren of the people granted citizenship in Sterling, Virginia last Friday will also look back with special thanks to our new Americans.

And let us not forget the instrumental roles that immigrants and their descendants have played in growing America’s economy. Further, our history as a nation of immigrants has defined our culture, and the diversity of ideas and customs that immigration provides keeps us competitive in this ever-changing world.

Undoubtedly, the 500 people I spoke to have faced numerous challenges on their road to becoming U.S. citizens, including the challenge of traversing a broken immigration system. Thanks to a strong bipartisan effort in the U.S. Senate, we are much closer to fixing that system. Doing so will uphold our history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

As years pass, I suspect that July 4th, 2013, will stand out in my memory because of the 500 lives that changed in Sterling, Virginia, and the possibility that many millions more lives will change – and strengthen our nation – in the years to come.

July 2, 2013
12:32 pm

From July 1st to July 6th, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is traveling to Alaska, Russia and the Republic of Korea, advancing strategic Homeland Security priorities and meeting with our international partners. Follow Secretary Napolitano's trip here on the DHS Blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.

On Monday, July 1st, Secretary Napolitano traveled to Anchorage, Alaska and met with Department of Homeland Security personnel stationed in the region. While in Alaska, the Secretary was briefed on a number of issues that the Department, including the U.S. Coast Guard, are focusing on in the region and thanked the personnel for their service.

 

Secretary Napolitano addressed members of Coast Guard Sector Anchorage at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson National Guard Armory in Anchorage, Alaska where she spoke of the Coast Guard's role in Alaska and of her pride in the service's accomplishments.

 

Secretary Napolitano took questions from the Coast Guard, and thanked them for their service.

 

During a meeting at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Secretary Napolitano addressed representativesfrom across DHS including the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, and other federal, state and local agencies. She took questions from attendees in the audience, and discussed her goals for the future of the Department.

June 26, 2013
3:23 pm

Originally posted by the U.S. Coast Guard on June 25, 2013

        Coast Guard crews work year-round to ensure they are ready to support their community in the aftermath of disaster. In keeping with the service’s proud tradition of preserving life, the Coast Guard has plans in place to protect communities from manmade or natural disasters and one of the most important elements of these plans is communication. When disaster hits, communication is essential among first responders to coordinate rescue and recovery efforts. Traditionally, the Coast Guard has utilized radios, emails, telephones and basic computer systems to communicate, store, and share information. Members of the Port of New Orleans Harbor Police Department conduct safety and security patrols with a Coast Guard response boat for Super Bowl XLVII on the lower Mississippi River, Jan. 31, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Bill Colclough.

While the Coast Guard will always rely on traditional telecommunications such as radios, emails and telephones, it also has a powerful tool to coordinate response efforts with federal, state local and private sector partners – the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Information Network. Known as HSIN, this innovative network is a secure system providing real-time collaboration tools, including a virtual meeting space, instant messaging and document sharing. In short, this network allows the Coast Guard to share information with other agencies instantly, regardless of their location, to communicate, collaborate and coordinate. This tool is invaluable for units involved in hurricane response efforts, including law enforcement, emergency management and humanitarian agencies.“

HSIN allows government agencies at all levels to directly collaborate and share information with others including the private sector like energy companies and private rail while maintaining proper information security,” said Lt. Joel Kurucar of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, who has worked to incorporate HSIN into Coast Guard operations. “During event and incident responses, information from responders is passed through operational command centers. While those are still critical to response efforts, HSIN cuts out the ‘middle man’ and allows information from the source to be shared with all responders faster and more effectively than ever before.”

The network has been used in most hurricane response efforts in the Southeast since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall, New Orleans’ 911 system was knocked offline and calls were re-routed to Baton Rouge, La. HSIN was used to relay information from thousands of emergency calls to first responders in New Orleans, resulting in lives saved. But responders are constantly improving their capabilities. For the first time this year, live video feed was shared through HSIN during the Super Bowl to assist with surveillance efforts.

“HSIN is able to fill in the gaps when it comes to emergency response and provides the flexibility to modify tools used for response efforts,” said Kurucar. “We were able to leverage the tools available in HSIN to meet the needs of vastly different responses including oil spills, marine casualties, hurricane responses and mid-to-large planned events. Each response or event is different and the ability to adjust the information sharing tools available to meet mission demand is critical to success.”

This year, the Coast Guard plans to coordinate response efforts not only online, but also on the go with the roll out of a Coast Guard-developed mobile interface. The mobile interface will allow information to flow through HSIN from almost any location. This means more real-time information, even for those out in the field responding. The value of the mobile interface was seen firsthand during this year’s Super Bowl, where more than 500 first responders were able to communicate directly with seven operations centers, drastically increasing transition speeds, accuracy of data and security.

“The HSIN mobile interface played a prominent role in deconflicting reports and speeding the response to the power outage during the Super Bowl,” said Kurucar. “As soon as the power outage took place, City of New Orleans officials were posting updates on HSIN, and first responders in the field were able to check these updates on their mobile devices allowing them to efficiently concentrate their efforts in the field and reduce calls to the city’s operations center who was handling the incident.”

Quick communication is key in response efforts – from posting information about evacuation shelters and routes to requesting assistance from neighboring states or counties to sharing on-the-ground information about search and rescue efforts. Preparing U.S. ports and cities for disaster is a year-round effort that often goes unnoticed. In the face of disaster, however, the plans developed by local, state and federal agencies will save lives. No one knows what this year’s hurricane season will be like, but with tools like the Homeland Security Information Network the Coast Guard remains ready to respond.

June 20, 2013
11:30 am

Today, the Administration unveiled the 2013 Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Joint Strategic Plan which will help guide the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to combat intellectual property theft in the next three years.  Over the past four years, DHS has worked closely with the White House Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) and our interagency partners to further strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement, and promote American innovation and economic growth. 

The 2013 Joint Strategic Plan builds on our progress and lays out 26 specific Action Items to strengthen our intellectual property protections, increase enforcement efforts against counterfeiting networks, and encourage multi-national cooperation to protect intellectual property.  

The release of the Strategic Plan today coincides with the three-year anniversary of “Operation In Our Sites,” the first coordinated and sustained law enforcement effort to target websites that distribute counterfeit merchandise and pirated goods. Since its inception, Federal law enforcement agencies, have conducted 13 operations, resulting in the seizure of more than 1,700 domain names of infringing websites and over $3 million from targeted sites.

Our work combating intellectual property theft is strengthened through our collaboration with our international law enforcement partners. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are working with the World Customs Organization (WCO) to develop a Cargo Targeting System (CTS), and build on the success of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) operation to expand enforcement efforts to cover counterfeit pharmaceuticals and electronic components. 

Additionally, DHS is working in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Postal Service, to develop and implement a program to obtain advance data from international postal operators and express carrier companies to improve targeting. 

  • Since FY 2009, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has significantly increased its enforcement activities, including a 71% increase in intellectual property cases, 159% increase in arrests, 264% increase in indictments, and 103 %  increase in convictions. 
  • Since FY 2010, ICE’s IPR Center’s number of inves­tigative leads submitted by field offices and partner agencies increased by 764%. 
  • Since FY 2009, CBP and ICE HSI intellectual property seizures have increased by 53 %, with 24,792 seizures carried out in FY 2011—the highest total number of seizures in a year to date. 
  • To date, 21 agen­cies, including four international partners, have partnered together through the IPR Center to leverage their combined resources, skills, and authorities to better combat intellectual property theft and dismantle the criminal organizations seeking to profit from the manufacturing, importation, and sale of counterfeit merchandise and pirated works. 

Further details can be found here.

June 19, 2013
3:07 pm

This morning, Secretary Napolitano sat down for an interview on the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Secretary Napolitano talked about the DHS Blue Campaign, the Department’s unified voice to combat human trafficking. Working in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations, Blue Campaign strives to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.

The Blue Campaign recently re-launched, and is now offering new, comprehensive resources for recognizing the indicators of human trafficking and knowing how to report suspected instances of human trafficking to law enforcement, as well as resources for potential victims. Please visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign to learn more, take the training, print the posters, and share the PSA to educate yourself and your community about human trafficking.

June 18, 2013
10:30 am

Amidst all the trips to the beach, family vacations, and picnics this summer, children will also spend an increased amount of time on the Internet. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, children and teenagers aged 8-18 spend almost 8  hours a day on electronic devices. This summer, the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign is encouraging parents to take a few minutes to talk with their children about Internet safety.

While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk.  For children, this includes cyber bullying, cyber predators, and other threats. The Cyber Bullying Research Center says that about half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. The Internet makes it easy for rumors, threats, and photos to be easily disseminated, without realizing the harm it can cause someone else.

Parents, teachers, and guardians can begin taking steps to protect children online by creating an open environment where they  feel comfortable reporting abuses over the Internet. Here are some additional tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign:

  • Be aware of what social networks your kids and teens use and how much information they share. They should never share addresses, birthdays, schools, and last names with strangers;
  • Teach your kids how to conduct searches safely, by using specific and narrow search terms on commonly-used search engines to prevent unwanted and malicious results;
  • Install filters and firewalls to manage what sites your kids can access;
  • Set strong passwords that are different on every site; and
  • Remind your children not to say anything online about someone else that they would not  want them to said about them. 

At the end of the day, cybersecurity is ultimately about people and is a shared responsibility.  We are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

 

 

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