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January 14, 2014
2:30 pm

Today, I was proud to participate in the Human Trafficking Survivor Forum and Listening Session hosted by the White House, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During the event, the Administration announced the release of the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States, recommitting our efforts to continuing our fight to stop human trafficking and aid victims of this heinous crime.

Jointly developed by the White House, DHS, DOJ, and HHS, this plan highlights the work of our Departments to combat human trafficking, and describes the steps that federal agencies will take to ensure that all victims of human trafficking in the United States are identified and have access to the services they need to recover, including steps to create a victim services network that is comprehensive, trauma-informed, and responsive to the needs of all victims.

At DHS, we work across our missions to combat human trafficking every day:

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations investigates incidents of human trafficking, arrests traffickers, protects victims, and provides short-term immigration relief for foreign victims;
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection interdicts traffickers, protects victims, and disrupts human trafficking schemes at our borders;
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides long-term immigration relief to foreign victims of human trafficking through its T and U visas; and,
  • The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center coordinates with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Office of Health Affairs to develop human trafficking awareness training for law enforcement and first responders. 

DHS coordinates and unites these initiatives under the DHS Blue Campaign.

January is National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention Month. The Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States reaffirms the American values of freedom and equality by strengthening services for victims of human trafficking – an important step in continuing our fight for justice.  

To learn more about DHS’s efforts to combat human trafficking and what you can do, visit and read the Federal Strategic Action Plan here

January 13, 2014
1:24 pm

Posted by Suzanne Spaulding, Acting Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate

Protecting and ensuring the continuity of critical infrastructure in the United States is essential to our nation's national security, public health and safety and economic prosperity. At the same time, growing interdependencies across the systems that control our infrastructure, particularly information and communications technologies, have increased vulnerabilities across a range of physical and cyber threats that can include extreme weather, aging infrastructure, industrial accidents, or acts of terror. 

In the face of this evolving risk environment, President Obama issued an Executive Order and Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) in February 2013, underscoring the need for our nation to think broadly about the way we manage critical infrastructure, not just in terms of physical measures but also focusing on security and resilience across these important and often interdependent systems.

Today, I had the opportunity to host a call with critical infrastructure owners and operators and stakeholders from around the country to discuss a key piece of the PPD. Working collaboratively with our partners from across all levels of government, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and academia, we have updated the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). NIPP 2013 is based on a set of priorities, developed together by the public and private sectors, that integrates cyber and physical security to better protect our nation’s critical infrastructure.

It describes a shared vision in which physical and cyber critical infrastructure remain secure and resilient, while vulnerabilities are reduced, potential impacts are minimized, threats are promptly identified and disrupted, and response and recovery efforts hastened. The goals outlined in NIPP 2013 reflect expected outcomes from a proactive and inclusive partnership among all levels of government and the private and non-profit sectors to leverage existing capabilities and develop new capabilities to strengthen security and resilience by more effectively assessing and managing risks, and enhancing national preparedness. 

Members of the critical infrastructure community who participated in helping to craft this important plan are vital partners that have enabled progress toward our shared objective and on which we will continue to rely going forward.  Together, our continued commitment and cooperation will be important to reduce risk and ensure the security and resiliency of our nation’s critical infrastructure. 

To learn more about the NIPP 2013, please visit

January 2, 2014
4:18 pm

Posted by the TSA Blog Team

Editor's note: This blog was originially posted to the TSA Blog on December 31, 2013.

2013 was an important year for TSA, as we continued to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to security, and towards a more risk-based security posture. At the heart of this effort has been our focus on expanding expedited screening opportunities to eligible members of the traveling public. Let’s take a look at some of the significant steps we have taken toward that goal and new ways we share TSA information over the last year. 

TSA Precheck Logo

TSA Pre✓™ Expansion: Most importantly, 2013 saw the TSA Pre✓™ program dramatically expand to nine participating airlines and 113 airports.  TSA Pre✓™ allows low-risk travelers to experience faster, more efficient screening and leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, and keep their laptop in its case and 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in their carry-on. Since its launch in October 2011, more than 30 million passengers have experienced TSA Pre✓™. 

TSA Pre✓™ Application Centers Launch: In December, TSA launched its first of many TSA Pre✓™ Application Centers which expanded the expedited screening program to a larger population of travelers. This new application program allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers the opportunity to apply for expedited screening in select screening lanes at participating U.S. airports. There are currently 11 TSA Pre✓™ application centers, and TSA has planned to open more around the country in 2014. 

Member of U.S. Military at TSAprecheck desk.

TSA Pre✓™ for Members of the Military: As a result of the ongoing partnership between TSA and the Department of Defense, TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening was extended to all U.S. Armed Forces service members. Service members, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves and National Guard, may now enjoy the benefits of this expedited screening program at all 113 participating airports when flying on any of the nine participating airlines. 

TSA Spanish-Language Site: The new Spanish-Language site offers information about TSA’s screening process and security procedures to Spanish speaking travelers. The Spanish language site contains the same helpful traveler information and tips that are available on, and is the TSA’s next step in its plans to easily connect with passengers in their native language and ensures that Spanish speaking passengers have the most current information and security updates available.

As we look back at 2013, we also remember Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez, who was killed in the horrendous attack at LAX.  Officer Hernandez’s death reminds us of the risks the brave men and women of TSA face every day as they work to protect the traveling public. We will continue to honor Officer Hernandez’s memory as we move into 2014 – working each day to keep the traveling public secure. 


December 27, 2013
1:04 pm

Last week, I was in Mexico City where I joined U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski for the launch of Mexico’s new trusted traveler program—Programa Viajero Confiable. Mexico’s Tourism Under Secretary Jose Salvador Sanchez Estrada, Tax Commissioner Aristóteles Núñez Sánchez and National Immigration Institute Commissioner Ardelio Vargas presided over the event. 

This launch is an important example of the continuing efforts of the U.S-Mexico 21st Century Border Management Initiative and the High Level Economic Dialogue to deepen engagement to facilitate legitimate trade and travel between our two countries.

Viajero Confiable is a trusted traveler program similar to CBP’s Global Entry.  These programs improve the ability for each of our countries to quickly process pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival at major airports. Since 2010, more than 40,000 Mexican citizens have taken the opportunity to enroll in CBP’s Global Entry, and now U.S. citizens will be able to enroll in Viajero Confiable, further enhancing travel and trade between our two countries, while maintaining the highest standards of security. In fact, at the conclusion of the ceremony, I was proud to become to the first American enrolled in Viajero Confiable.

The launching of Viajero Confiable provides the opportunity for U.S. citizens to expedite their international travel into Mexico and marks an important example of ongoing and unprecedented cooperation between our two countries in security and economic competitiveness matters. 

Working in tandem, Global Entry and Viajero Confiable will break down barriers to cross-border travel, create new opportunities to increase tourism between our countries, and build a business-friendly environment that strengthens our nations’ economic competitiveness.

DHS and Mexican officials participate in a panel discussion.

From left: CBP Acting Commissioner Winkowski, Assistant Secretary Bersin, Mexican Tourism Under Secretary Estrada, and U.S. Ambassador Wayne

For more information on the 21st Century Border Management Initiative, visit

December 23, 2013
11:58 am

Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, National Protection and Programs Directorate

Flat Amber visits DHS’s NCCIC, a 24-hour cyber situational awareness, incident response, and management center.

Flat Amber visits DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a 24-hour cyber situational awareness, incident response, and management center.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Stop.Think.Connect. campaign is joining the Flat Stanley Project to help kids learn about the importance of cybersecurity. By downloading and using the Flat Stanley App, kids will be able to create their own “Flat Stanley” or “Flat Stella” character and send it on a tour of the Internet to learn about staying safe online and helping spread the word about cybersecurity.

The Flat Stanley App can be useful for kids, parents and teachers to start a discussion about online safety, particularly during the holiday break from school when many children will be using computers, tablets or smart phones.

With kids spending more time than ever before on the Internet and social media, the partnership with the Flat Stanley Project allows DHS to further its efforts to raise cybersecurity awareness among young Americans.

Here are a few simple tips for kids will find on the app to help them remember to stay safe online:

  • Be careful about what information you share online and always ask an adult first
  • Don’t talk to strangers online and never agree to meet in person. Tell a parent or another adult you trust if a stranger contacts you in a chat room or through email or text message
  • Avoid sharing your passwords with anyone other than your parents
  • Don’t open emails or download attachments from strangers
  • Keep your personal information private; if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is
  • Treat others online like you want to be treated   

For more information about how to access the Flat Stanly App visit To learn about what DHS is doing to keep kids safe online and for other cybersecurity tips, please visit


December 19, 2013
2:08 pm

Posted by: Amy Pope and Ricardo Zuniga

Editors Note: This blog was originally posted on the White House blog on December 19, 2013.

Today the United States and Canada released the 2013 Implementation Report on the Beyond the Border Initiative. The report highlights the significant progress we have made over the last year to enhance economic cooperation and to address threats before they reach our common border. Our two countries are doing all we can to make trade and travel easier and less expensive, supporting economic competiveness and prosperity, while partnering to keep our communities safe. 

Since President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border Declaration in 2011, we have worked together to benefit residents, travelers, and industry in both countries while enhancing security, trade and travel facilitation, critical infrastructure protection, and emergency management.  We are jointly collaborating before goods or travelers even arrive at the border, embracing a perimeter security approach where possible.

For example, this year, under the “cleared once, accepted twice” principle, both countries have started to rely on the other’s offshore inspections of marine shipments to reduce the need for re-inspection at the land border. Also, the U.S. truck cargo pre-inspection pilot in Surrey, British Columbia, tested new approaches for conducting screening at the land border. We are building on these accomplishments to complete preclearance negotiations for all transportation modes. Each of these initiatives helps goods move securely and more quickly across our shared border.

We are also successfully using the NEXUS trusted traveler program to benefit industry, travelers and our two governments. In the last year, membership in the NEXUS trusted traveler program grew by approximately 50 percent. Program participants save time and receive an expanded set of benefits when traveling. At the land border, Canada opened additional NEXUS lanes to complement the existing U.S. investments and to expedite the border clearance process. At airports and in marine reporting locations, access to expedited passenger screening lines at designated locations in both countries and access to NEXUS and Global Entry trusted traveler kiosks facilitates the border clearance process and allows our border agencies to redirect their resources to unknown travelers.

Going forward, both countries are committed to building on these shared accomplishments to achieve the vision of our President and the Canadian Prime Minister. We intend to upgrade infrastructure at priority border crossings, implement a single window for border transactions, and harmonize trusted trader programs between our two countries. We will continue to pursue creative and effective solutions to truly go “Beyond the Border.”

For more information on Beyond the Border, visit

Amy Pope is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Transborder Security at the National Security Council. Ricardo Zuniga is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council.

December 18, 2013
9:31 am

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the next phase of an exciting program for our nation’s future cyber professionals. The Secretary’s Honors Program (SHP) Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, a student volunteer program designed specifically for college students, began accepting applications for its 2014 class. With more than 100 unpaid student volunteer assignments available in over 60 locations across the country, the program offers students an opportunity to learn and support the cybersecurity work performed by DHS’ cybersecurity workforce.

DHS actively collaborates and shares information with public and private sector partners every day to respond to and coordinate mitigation in the face of attempted disruptions to the Nation’s critical cyber and communications networks and to reduce adverse impacts on critical network systems.

The SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, created in April 2013 by former Secretary Janet Napolitano, has been expanded to new DHS offices and locations, giving students with a variety of backgrounds and skills the chance to learn about the wide range of DHS cybersecurity responsibilities, and gain invaluable hands-on experience. 

Participating DHS offices and components in the program include the U. S. Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) computer forensics labs, and state and major urban area fusion centers through DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis. 

Student volunteers will work alongside DHS cybersecurity professionals on a range of projects to support our cybersecurity mission. Among other exciting duties, participants will analyze cyber threats at state and major urban area fusion centers; research virtual currency with Secret Service agents; and assist with decoding files of interest for forensic analysis at ICE labs. They will support Information Assurance awareness training at the Coast Guard; help with network diagnostics and incident response at TSA; and support DHS’ network security efforts through OCIO.  With assignments beginning in the spring of 2014 and lasting throughout the summer, student volunteers will learn critical skills they can use to succeed in their future careers.  

The 2014 SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative is the latest in our efforts to develop a workforce equipped to respond to the constantly evolving cyber threats facing our nation. DHS is proud to offer these opportunities to students around the country, and is committed to creating programs to cultivate the next generation of cyber talent.  We encourage students to apply by January 3, and look forward to welcoming the 2014 class next spring.

UPDATE, January 13: The deadling for applications have been extended to January 17, 2014. Learn more about and apply for the SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative here.

December 17, 2013
11:01 am

The Department of Homeland Security is proud to welcome Luke J. McCormack as the new Chief Information Officer (CIO).  As the CIO, Mr. McCormack will lead and oversee the department’s continuing efforts to implement information technology enhancements and security.  The Department is strongly committed to ensuring it has the IT capabilities it needs to meet the challenges across the homeland security mission space.

Coming from the Department of Justice (DOJ) where he was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for  Information Resources and the CIO, he brings a wealth of federal service as well as diverse experience in the private sector. 

Prior to his tenure at DOJ, Mr. McCormack served as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement CIO and held several other senior homeland security IT management positions from 1999 to 2012 including in U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its legacy agency U.S. Customs.  His private sector positions included management roles with MCI, Ford Aerospace and a smaller minority-owned firm.

Mr. McCormack is a two-time Fed 100 award winner and has been the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive and the Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary’s Silver Medal.

Mr. McCormack holds an MBA from the Smith School, University of Maryland, and holds key certifications from Columbia University and the National Defense University.

December 13, 2013
4:45 pm

Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers officiated the ceremonial swearing in of Dr. Huban Gowadia as Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).

Under Dr. Gowadia’s leadership, DNDO will continue to develop nuclear detection capabilities, measure detector system performance, ensure effective response to detection alarms, conduct transformational research and development, and coordinate the improvement of technical nuclear forensics capabilities across the U.S. Government.  Prior to this role, Dr. Gowadia served in DNDO as Acting Director from 2012 to 2013, Deputy Director from 2010 to 2012, Assistant Director of the Mission Management Directorate from 2007 to 2010, and Assistant Director for Assessments from 2005 to 2007. 

Before joining DNDO, Dr. Gowadia led the DHS Science & Technology Directorate Countermeasures Test Beds as Program Executive from 2003 to 2005.  Dr. Gowadia also worked as Checkpoint Program Manager with the Transportation Security Administration from 2001 to 2003 and as an engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration from 2000 to 2001.

Dr. Gowadia received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. 

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office is a jointly staffed agency within the Department of Homeland Security. It is the primary entity in the U.S. government for implementing domestic nuclear detection efforts for a managed and coordinated response to radiological and nuclear threats, as well as integration of federal nuclear forensics programs. For more information, please visit

December 12, 2013
1:49 pm

Posted by Rafael Borras, Acting Deputy Secretary

This year, the Department of Homeland Security reached a major goal by achieving a clean audit opinion of the Department’s financial statements by an independent auditor.  Simply put, the clean audit is in line with our ultimate goal to increase transparency and accountability for the taxpayer resources entrusted to the Department.                                   

This benchmark comes just ten years after DHS was established.  Financial managers worked together to integrate the policies and practices of 22 separate agencies into one department. Our talented and dedicated workforce came together as “One DHS,” implementing strong policies and business practices, and resolving complicated financial management issues leading to the achievement of a clean audit opinion.  The effort has significantly improved the overall health of DHS financial management capabilities, driven by strong leadership commitment and partnerships within the Department.

In order to achieve a clean audit opinion, DHS worked across the entire Department to complete a comprehensive inventory process of its property for the financial statements, with many components cataloguing material that existed long before we were one Department. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard, supported by teams from other DHS Components, dedicated resources and progressively improved reporting for its broad portfolio of assets.  This enterprise-wide approach made it possible for the Department to account for an additional $8 billion in property, which was the last factor we needed to earn a clean audit.                                                                                              

Thanks to the dedicated expertise of our department-wide financial management team and the commitment of the department’s leaders, DHS has built a sturdy foundation of sustainable practices that will support our operations for years to come. As we work every day to meet our Homeland Security mission, we will continue the work of improving financial management across the Department, while remaining responsible stewards of every homeland security dollar.


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