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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.

November 29, 2013
1:18 pm

Posted by NPPD Acting Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Roberta Stempfley

On Monday, millions of Americans will log on to their computers, tablets or smartphones in search of discounts and deals as part of Cyber Monday. Online retailers from across the country now participate in Cyber Monday.  Unfortunately, so do cyber criminals and hackers, who are seeking to exploit unwary shoppers for their credit card and financial information.

With the increasing threat of cyber scams and other online shopping fraud, it is important for everyone to practice safe online behavior on Cyber Monday, throughout the holidays, and every day.

Here are some simple cybersecurity tips can help protect your personal information and transactions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season:

  • Connect with care. Avoid doing any online shopping on unsecure wireless networks, such as places with public and free Wi-Fi. Do your online shopping at home, and make sure your home wireless network is password protected.
  • Be cautious online. Do not click on suspicious links or download items from unknown sources.
  • Pay attention to website URLs. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (for example, the malicious site may use .net instead of .com). Also, look in the address box for https:// before entering any personal or credit card information. The “s” means secure. Unlike http:// URLs, https:// tells you that the site uses encryption to transmit your information over the Internet. 
  • Set strong passwords. Make sure your passwords are complex and unique to each account. Change your passwords often, and don’t set passwords that will be easy for cyber criminals to guess, such as “password.” A good rule of thumb is to create passwords with eight characters or more that use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • Don’t believe everything you see. While many retailers are offering great deals on Cyber Monday, there will also be deals that are just too good to be true. Before you buy that new tablet for only $50, be sure to shop only on the websites of trusted retailers, and avoid shopping through pop-up ads or unfamiliar websites.
  • Use a credit card. There are laws that limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges. You may not have the same level of protection when using a debit card.
  • Keep a record of your order. Retain all documentation from the order in case your purchase doesn’t ship or you come across unauthorized charges on your bill.
  • Check your statements. Check your purchase records against your credit card and bank statements. If there are differences, report them immediately.
November 27, 2013
3:49 pm

Posted by John Cohen, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis and Counterterrorism Coordinator

Every day, malls around the country work closely with DHS, FBI and state and local law enforcement to keep shoppers safe. This year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is partnering with a number of communities across the state of New Hampshire as part of our If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign and displaying materials encouraging shoppers to report suspicious activity to local authorities.

At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), homeland security begins with hometown security. We’re all safer when everyone is alert and engaged, and that’s what the Department’s nationwide If You See Something, Say Something™ public awareness campaign is all about.  Currently, DHS partners with a number of shopping centers, including the Mall of America, Walmart, Simon Property Group, and the Building Owners and Managers Association, to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities.

DHS, in partnership with the FBI, regularly communicates with our partners in federal, state, and local government, as well as in the private sector, about the threats facing our Nation. As part of this ongoing engagement, DHS works with the retail and shopping center industries to enhance security and increase preparedness. DHS also participates in training exercises with our retail industry partners to establish readiness while providing support and resources to their ongoing security operations. 

Along with our partnership with the retail industry, DHS and the FBI continue to work together with the commercial facilities sector to increase the preparedness and resilience of public spaces.  DHS offers a broad set of tools to help our law enforcement and private sector partners prepare for and mitigate potential threats, from our online active shooter portal to a recently announced pilot program that will provide local law enforcement with a platform for active shooter training.

We have seen the value of public vigilance in thwarting terrorism and crime time and again, so remember: if you see something that doesn’t look right, report it to local authorities. When we each do our part, we are working together to keep our nation safe, one hometown at a time.

For more information about the If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign, visit here.

November 26, 2013
4:24 pm

Posted by Lt. Stephanie Young, U.S. Coast Guard

Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on Compass, the official blog of the U.S. Coast Guard, on November 26, 2013.


Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Pearl puts the finishing touches on the pumpkin and pecan pie. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Coast Guard food service specialists serve in approximately 370 units worldwide. The keep the Coast Guard fleet ready and able to perform the service’s missions.

As many Americans gather together with family and loved ones on Thanksgiving, we thought there was no one better to turn to for advice on preparing the perfect meal than our own food service specialists. Yesterday we shared the recipe for some Thanksgiving Day sides. Today, we’re sharing the recipe for a delicious pumpkin and pecan pie topped with maple-bourbon Chantilly cream.


Pumpkin Puree

2 “pie” pumpkins

Remove stem and cut in half. Remove the seeds and stringy innards. Place open side down on a sheet tray and loosely cover with foil, roast at 375 degrees for about an hour or until you can easily pierce with a fork. Scrape the inside of the cooked pumpkin and discard the skin. Puree in a food processor and cool.


Pumpkin and pecan pie

½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups fresh cooked, pureed pumpkin

¼ cup roasted and chopped pecans

¼ cup light corn syrup

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup evaporated milk

½ cup milk, scalded

egg white

1 unbaked pie shell, 9-inch

Mix sugar, salt and spices. Add pumpkin, pecans, then corn syrup, eggs, butter, evaporated milk and the hot milk. Brush bottom of the pie crust with egg white. Pour pumpkin filling mixture into the shell and bake at 375 deg. for 25 to 35 minutes. A knife should come out clean when inserted in center.


Bourbon maple Chantilly cream

1 Half pint heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. bourbon

1/8 cup of powdered sugar

Whip cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Add bourbon, maple and powdered sugar and whip until medium peaks form.

November 25, 2013
1:15 pm

Posted by Lt. Stephanie Young, U.S. Coast Guard

Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on Compass, the official blog of the U.S. Coast Guard, on November 25, 2013.

Your Thanksgiving Day recipe chefs with their supporters. Front row: Rear Adm. June Ryan, Chief Petty Officer Tameka Avans, Petty Officer 1st Class Katie Underwood, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers, Petty Officer 2nd Class David Vega, Petty Officer 2nd Class Laron Jones, Lt. Kim McLear and Cmdr. Jim Estramonte. Back row: Lt. Jon Ladyga, Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Pearl, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Rohrs, Petty Officer 3rd Class Shunita Craig and Lt. Cmdr. Brian Hopkins. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Coast Guard food service specialists serve in approximately 370 units worldwide. They keep the Coast Guard fleet ready and able to perform the service’s missions. As many Americans gather together with family and loved ones on Thanksgiving, we thought there was no one better to turn to for advice on preparing the perfect meal than our own food service specialists. You’ve already got your turkey, but here, the chefs offer some Thanksgiving Day sides. Check back with us tomorrow for the recipe of a classic – pumpkin pie.


Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Rohrs prepares the Thanksgiving Day sides. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Warm apple, bacon and brussel sprout salad

1 large apple cut into bite-sized pieces soaked in water with the juice of 1 lemon

4 strips of thick cut bacon cut into 1/8 inch strips

½ red onion medium dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp of maple syrup

1/3 cup pine nuts chopped and toasted

12 ounces Brussels sprouts /washed, blanched and quartered

Cook bacon until crisp remove from pan reserving fat. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add sprouts and apple and caramelize. Quickly toss in garlic, pine nuts, crisp bacon, and maple syrup warm and serve.


Cranberry, pear and pomegranate relish

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 large seedless orange peeled and quartered

Zest of 1 lemon

1 Bartlett pear, cored

1 cup sugar

1 seeded pomegranate

In a food processor, combine cranberries and pear with orange and lemon then sprinkle with sugar. Pulse until mixture is coarsely ground. Bring to a simmer in a sauce pan, cool. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. stir and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

November 22, 2013
4:47 pm

Posted by DHS Study in the States

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) joined our many partners across government, academia, and the private sector in observing the 14th annual International Education Week to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.

DHS plays an important role in welcoming international students to the United States, and remains committed to ensuring America remains a destination of choice for students from around the world.  Multiple components within the Department are involved in various aspects of the process, and DHS has worked to enhance their coordination and improve the experiences of international students and host schools.  Through DHS’ Office of Academic Engagement, DHS facilitates regular meetings with representatives from across the Department to coordinate international student issues and initiatives. 

We continue to work closely with the academic community to examine our international student policies and processes.  One part of that effort is the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC), a federal advisory committee comprised of prominent university presidents and academic leaders.  The HSAAC advises the Secretary and senior leadership at DHS on matters related to homeland security and the academic community, and has a subcommittee dedicated to international student issues. 

Based on HSAAC recommendations, DHS has taken steps to increase engagement with the academic community and seek input on draft policies.  In 2013, representatives from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) participated in over 100 outreach events, as well as served on interagency panels that addressed key issues affecting international students, schools, and school officials.  To increase public engagement in policy development, ICE SEVP began publishing draft guidance for public comment on the Study in the States website.

This week U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proposed changes to the requirements governing its Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to allow dependents and spouses of international students with F-1 or M-1 nonimmigrant status to study at a SEVP-certified school as long as it is less than full-time.  Additionally, the change would provide school officials more flexibility in determining the number of designated school officials to nominate for oversight of campuses.

DHS remains committed to working with our partners across government and in the academic community to continue these initiatives in the coming year, and welcome international students who wish to study here.

For more information on the Study in the States initiative, visit here. You can also visit their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  To learn more about the HSAAC, visit here.


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