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August 26, 2015
2:13 pm
By Shaun Donovan
Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Summary: Get the facts and data behind the programs the Obama administration has put in place in partnership with the communities they intend to serve, all across the country. As the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, it’s my job to oversee the implementation and enforcement of the President’s priorities across the Administration.

You might call us the nerve center where goals become initiatives, and initiatives become programs at work on the ground in local communities and states across the country.

With that in mind, let’s go back to basics for a second and focus on something we can all agree on:

Any plans that we want to make for improving communities across the country need to be hatched in partnership with those communities -- by the people who live in them, work in them, and stand to benefit from them.

OMB Place Map

This week marks ten years since the neighborhoods of New Orleans were left devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Since then, community partnerships with the federal government have helped revitalize those communities. They’ve made sure the city’s vital health clinic system stays funded and delivering high quality services. They’ve laid the groundwork to open the Loyola Avenue-Union Passenger Terminal Streetcar Line in the city’s business district. They’ve brought the number of homeless veterans in New Orleans to a functional zero by December of 2014 – more than a year ahead of the proposed goal. (Hear straight from a New Orleanian about the role open data played in the city's transformation.)

There are projects like these at work across the country, whether you realized it or not.

Over the course of the past six years, this Administration has been steadily creating programs in partnership with the communities they intend to serve – from southeastern Kentucky to Fresno to Detroit.

While there are a lot of things we have been up to from addressing climate change to poverty alleviation, we are taking a new approach -- one that relies on communities developing plans that best fit their needs rather than the laundry list of programs the government has. It’s pretty simple. First, we partner with communities by seeking out their plans or vision. Second, we take a one-government approach that crosses agency and program silos to support communities in implementing their plans for improvement. Finally we focus on what works, using data to measure success and monitor progress.

Nola Before

Construction and development of the Loyola Avenue-Union Passenger Terminal Streetcar Lines had stalled out, leaving low-income areas underserved for decades. A $45 million TIGER grant ensured the streetcar expansion was completed by 2013, and has connected residential neighborhoods -- including low-income communities -- directly with Amtrak and intercity bus service.

Fresno After

The plot of land at Belmont and Poplar Avenues was virtually abandoned. AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps has since installed water-saving irrigation, cleaned up the alleys, built a community garden, and planted native trees.

We wanted to give the American public a sense of exactly what that looks like – and give you the opportunity to take a look at what’s at work in your area. So today, we released a snapshot view of the Obama administration’s community-based initiatives. It combines datasets from initiatives across more than 15 Federal agencies – and we’re adding datasets and features as we continue building it.

Take a look – see what’s at work in your area.

Then, share how you’ve seen these programs at work in your community. If you’ve got a photo, share that with us, too.

From the start, this map has been built in the open, and source code is available on GitHub. We want to know what you think, and how we can improve it – so share your thoughts with us here.

August 25, 2015
5:46 pm

On August 6, an 11-year-old boy named Jonathan was discovered by our Border Patrol at the Mexico/Texas border.  Days or weeks before, Jonathan left his native El Salvador and headed north because his family wanted him to have a better life in the United States.  But, by the time Jonathan reached the Texas border in the blistering summer heat, he was dehydrated and exhausted.  Our Border Patrol agents found Jonathan and tried to save him, but it was too late.  Jonathan was pronounced dead in a nearby Texas hospital.

My message to Central American families in the United States and in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala: Know the facts before you gamble with your child’s life.    

I have said many times before that sending a child on the long journey, from Central America, through Mexico, and illegally into the United States is dangerous, particularly in the summer heat and in the hands of criminal smugglers.  That is true now as it was before. 

This summer we are seeing another troubling and dangerous thing. Before smuggling women and children across our border, the Coyotes are forcing them to spend days in “stash houses.” These women and children, who have paid the Coyotes thousands of dollars, are then held by the Coyotes against their will with little food and water.  We are told many women are sexually abused by the smugglers.  One Honduran woman told us that her experience at a stash house was the worst part of the journey. She now warns others: “Don't believe everything the Coyotes say because they tell you a different story than what is reality. Reality is really hard.”   

Know the facts.  Do not be misled.  Do not fall prey to criminal smugglers who regard children as commodities.  We are cracking down on these smuggling organizations.  Just last month, we arrested 23 smugglers at once and charged them with human trafficking.  These smugglers now each face sentences of up to ten years in federal prison. 

Know the facts.  Our borders are not open to illegal migration.  There are no “permisos” or work permits for families attempting to enter the United States illegally.  In fact, under our new policies, anyone apprehended crossing our border illegally after January 1, 2014 is a top priority for deportation, regardless of age.  If you come here illegally, there will be consequences.  You will be detained, often required to pay a bond, and agree to conditions that ensure your return to court for your immigration case. The recent court decision has not changed this policy.

Know the facts.  For some children in Central America, there is a lawful and safe path to come to the United States.  We remain committed to protecting families with legitimate humanitarian claims under our laws.  Late last year, we established an in-country refugee processing program in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, for children with at least one parent lawfully present in the United States.  We encourage families to take advantage of this program, which will provide those who qualify with a safe and legal alternative to the perilous illegal journey.  More information about this program can be obtained at http://www.uscis.gov/CAM or through your local consulate.

We urge you to choose this path, not the dangerous and illegal one.

Meanwhile, President Obama wants to address the violence and poverty in Central America.  That is why he has asked Congress for $1 billion to create economic opportunity in Central America and accountable, functioning governing institutions. 

Jonathan’s journey to the United States ended tragically. Don’t subject your child to the risk of the same fate.

# # #

This first appeared in EFE.

August 24, 2015
1:54 pm

In a special ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office in Miami, Amanda Angelica Budino, a 100-year-old applicant from Buenos Aires, Argentina, recently took the Oath of Allegiance and became a naturalized U.S. Citizen. She has lived in the United States since 2001 and currently resides with her daughter and granddaughter in Miami. Mrs. Budino was the only member of her family who had not attained U.S. citizenship, and said she didn’t want to die without becoming an American citizen.

Amanda Angelica Budino stands with Acting Miami USCIS Field Office Director Conrad Zargoza.

USCIS officials were struck by her remarkable accomplishment. “I was honored to have interviewed Mrs. Budino regarding her naturalization application,” said Immigration Services Officer Iliam Espada, who helped her through the application process. “She was very warm, bright, and we here in Miami wish her all the best.”

Mrs. Budino was so excited during her naturalization interview that she answered every question while waving an American flag and saying “Let’s go, USA!” After taking the Oath, she said, “I am very thankful to this country, and I am very happy to become an American citizen.”

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August 21, 2015
3:46 pm

Members of the task force boarding the SS Cape Isabel to collect simulated nuclear detonation debris samples for nuclear forensic analysis. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigations)

Members of the task force boarding the SS Cape Isabel to collect simulated nuclear detonation debris samples for nuclear forensic analysis. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigations)

This week the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) participated in a successful land-based and maritime exercise of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Ground Collections Task Force, whose mission is to collect vital forensic evidence in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation to assist in determining the responsible entity.  The task force, comprised of members from the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), collects debris samples near the site of the detonation for analysis at designated laboratories.

Exercise Prominent Hunt 15-2, which took place in Southern California earlier this month, simulated a nuclear detonation near the ocean.  For the first time, the task force had to coordinate the collection of forensic evidence at sea. Nuclear forensics serves as the technical pillar of nuclear attribution, which fuses law enforcement, intelligence, and nuclear forensics information to identify the source of the device and the persons or groups responsible for its use in acts of terrorism.

Prominent Hunt 15-2 involved extensive collaboration among federal and local partners, including the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD). As they would in responding to a real event, DOE, DoD, and the LASD  deployed air assets with aerial radiation detection and mapping equipment to ascertain radiation levels from a nuclear detonation. These assets helped to ensure the collection of optimal evidence samples as well as the safety of the task force and other responders. The LASD was the first agency on-scene, where they gathered initial radiation level data with their helicopter-mounted detection system and, upon the arrival of federal assets, integrated into the DOE-managed aerial detection operations.  The DOE flew its Aerial Measurement System equipment on their fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. The DoD 244th Aviation Brigade also practiced with the DOE Aerial Measurement System as well as the DoD 20th CBRNE Command Airborne Radiological Detection, Identification, and Measurement System.

Throughout the exercise, DNDO collaborated with federal and local partners for a successful exercise. Exercises such as these support DNDO’s mission to help ensure the nation’s nuclear forensics capabilities are prepared to respond to nuclear threats.

Members of the task force collecting simulated debris samples from the SS Lane Victory. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigations)

Members of the task force collecting simulated debris samples from the SS Lane Victory. (Photo courtesy of the Federal Bureau of Investigations)

August 21, 2015
2:25 pm

U.S. Coast Guard: Patrolling Our Waters for Safety and Security

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Capt. Michael Day, Commander Coast Guard Sector New York, take a tour of New York Harbor aboard 45-foot Response Boat. The U.S. Coast Guard safeguards our nation’s waterways and protects our interests around the world.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Capt. Michael Day, Commander Coast Guard Sector New York, take a tour of New York Harbor aboard a 45-foot Response Boat. The U.S. Coast Guard safeguards our nation’s waterways and protects our interests around the world.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Frank Iannazzo-Simmons, Aug. 18, 2015 | Download High-Resolution Image (7360 x 4912)

August 18, 2015
1:00 pm

We’ve added a fourth Commercial Service Provider, Lockheed Martin, to provide cybersecurity service to customers. Commercial Service Providers receive cyber threat indicators through the Department of Homeland Security Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) program, which they in turn use to help protect and secure the networks of their customers. ECS is a voluntary information sharing program that assists U.S.-based public and private entities as they improve the protection of their systems from unauthorized access, exploitation, or data exfiltration.

This new announcement is a continuation of our efforts to expand cybersecurity information sharing services to all U.S.-based public and private organizations through ECS.

All accredited Commercial Service Providers must achieve a high standard of security competence, including retaining the ability to safeguard sensitive information, obtaining personnel and facilities clearances, and constructing secure network systems. Lockheed Martin joins three additional companies—AT&T, CenturyLink, and Verizon—who have met the stringent standards for ECS accreditation.

ECS has proven to be a highly effective part of a layered defense, and we encourage its use for organizations seeking to implement additional protections against sophisticated threats. ECS embeds privacy protections in its operations, ensuring industry can benefit from cyber threat indicator sharing without relinquishing privacy and civil liberties protections.

U.S.-based companies interested in ECS service may reach out directly to the four accredited Commercial Service Providers for more information:

ECS is part of a larger DHS effort to broaden information sharing activities. The effort includes programs like the Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program and capability developments such as Automated Information Sharing and Information Sharing and Analysis Organization models.

August 14, 2015
8:12 pm

by Howard Shelanski

Summary

To date, Federal agencies have completed over 179 retrospective initiatives which are expected to yield $22 billion in savings over the next five years.

In 2011, President Obama called on Federal agencies to undertake a government-wide review to identify regulations that had become outdated or that no longer justified their costs. To date, Federal agencies have completed over 179 retrospective initiatives which are expected to yield $22 billion in savings over the next five years.

The July 2015 agency reports identify not only rules to review and potentially revise, but also two dozen rules or regulatory provisions that agencies will remove wholesale from the books. The July reports also identify several initiatives—some new or ongoing, others recently completed—that continue the emphasis on several key areas of burden reduction we identified when agencies released their last biannual reports, in March 2015. Below are some of the highlights of the progress agencies are reporting.

Reducing regulatory and compliance burdens for State and local government

One of the key goals of the regulatory lookback process is to ensure an open dialogue with stakeholders in order to identify regulatory areas or specific rules that are overly burdensome, outdated or problematic.  Many of the new initiatives in the July reports emerged from this process of stakeholder engagement.  For example,

  • The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) requested that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revise ineffective, yet costly, public notice requirements imposed on State and local authorities by some federal air permit regulations.  Existing rules have led State and local permitting authorities to spend $9 million per year on newspaper notices that are rarely read and yield little public response.  At the suggestion of ECOS, the EPA is considering regulatory revisions to allow local governments to post the public notices of permit actions on Government websites, saving the government critical resources and allowing the public to be better informed                                      

Another issue consistently raised by state and local government stakeholders is the burdensome nature of the Federal permitting process.  The July plans build on steps the Administration is already taking on permitting reform with the Department of Transportation and other agencies.  The regulatory lookback reports highlight some of these permitting reforms, which range from very small ones like a Department of Interior rule that eliminates the requirement of a Federal permit for falconers that have already obtained a state permit, to much larger, multi-agency initiatives. An example of the latter is the process the Army Corps of Engineers is leading, in coordination with the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security, to revise the permitting ‘Red Book’.  Once completed, this handbook revision will improve synchronization and reduce duplication for the various Federal reviews and approvals typically required for transportation and other infrastructure projects.

As part of their regulatory lookback efforts, agencies are also on the lookout for ways to simplify reporting procedures for State governments.  For example,

  • The Department of Agriculture has proposed to amend the Summer Food Service Program to reduce the paperwork burden on States by over 25,000 hours per year and bring the Summer Food Service Program requirements in line with the Child Nutrition programs. 

Reducing regulatory burden for industry, with a focus on flexibility for small and new businesses

Agencies have made it an ongoing priority to reduce undue burdens on small and new businesses. For example, this past February, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule that will allow spouses of certain high-skilled workers to work in the United States while they wait to receive lawful permanent residence status (or a “green card”) through their employer. This rule change, which was recommended in a We the People” petition to the White House, will empower these spouses to put their own education and skills to work for the country that they and their families now call home. DHS estimates that in the first year alone as many as 180,000 spouses may be eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule, with up to 55,000 eligible annually in the following years.  

Other examples of burden reduction for small and new businesses include:

  • The Department of Labor’s new initiative to reform its Permanent Labor Certification Program (PERM), modernizing the rule to address changes in the labor market and advances in technology.  
  • DHS’s elimination of the requirement that certain mariners obtain Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC). This small change would eliminate trips to TWIC enrollment centers for approximately 18,000 mariners every year, saving mariners substantial time and money.
  • The Small Business Administration’s plans to introduce a single electronic application for all loans in SBA’s 7(a) program (“SBA ONE”) in order to modernize and streamline its small business loan program. This change will increases access to lending for small business and reduce the paperwork burden by an estimated 50 hours per loan, which translates into a time savings for small business of approximately 750,000 hours over the next five years.
  • The Department of Commerce’s elimination of an unnecessary requirement for fishermen to file a weekly report when they did not, in fact, fish during that particular week, which will eliminate an estimated 78,000 reports annually.

Improving Government Service 

This past Monday, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced an online tool that will allow many Americans to apply for replacement social security cards electronically.  Currently, if a social security card is lost or stolen one has to physically go to a social security office or mail in an application. This new tool will save an estimated $78 million and 437,500 public burden reporting hours total over the next five years.

The Department of Justice also just completed an effort that allows persons with disabilities to complete Americans with Disability Act (ADA) complaint forms online and submit them electronically.  This small action will not only save an estimated 2,275 hours of burden but will also lower the barriers for the disabled community to assert their rights under the ADA.

Next Steps 

Agencies have made good progress in embedding retrospective review of regulation as an ongoing institutional priority, but more work remains to be done. Both through stakeholder engagement and through agencies’ own initiative, the Federal Government will continue to identify both specific rules and areas of regulation in which our regulatory system can be made more efficient and of increasing value to the American people.

As one example of our new retrospective review efforts going forward, today I join Anne Rung, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, and Dave Mader, the Controller of the Office of Management and Budget in an initiative to review government regulation of university research and reduce unnecessary burdens on universities in their management and compliance with Federal contracts, grants, and other awards. It has become clear that universities face many regulatory compliance burdens that shift resources away from core research and education missions. Removing any such burdens that are unnecessary puts money where it benefits society the most, and to that end I am pleased to announce our request for burden reduction suggestions through the ongoing National Dialogue at www.cao.gov.    
 

Howard Shelanski is the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

August 14, 2015
7:12 pm

“La Coiffeusse”

Fourteen years after its reported theft from a Paris museum, a Pablo Picasso painting was returned to France to this week. The repatriation of “La Coiffeusse” follows an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) as a part of Operation Toile. Learn more about this great example of the dedication to mission of the men and women of ICE: http://go.usa.gov/3HUKV.

Official U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Photo | Download High-Resolution Photograph (1024 x 683)

August 7, 2015
4:17 pm

Semper Paratus! This week, the U.S. Coast Guard celebrated its 225th anniversary. Secretary Johnson joined Commandant Admiral Zukunft, Master Chief Petty Officer Steven Cantrell and Postmaster General Megan Brennan to unveil a Forever stamp in honor of this important occasion. We thank the men and women of America’s Coast Guard for their honor, respect, and devotion to duty as they stand Semper Paratus, Always Ready to serve their nation.

U.S. Coast Guard commemorative stamp celebrates 225 years of service to the nation

Official DHS photo by Jetta Disco (who proudly serves in the U.S. Coast Guard) | Download High-Resolution Image (3417 x 2308)

August 4, 2015
9:47 am

Today, the U.S. Coast Guard celebrates 225 years of Service to Nation. Over the past 225 years, the service has grown and adapted to the changing needs of our Nation. As the Coast Guard looks to the future, we celebrate our legacy, partnerships and celebrate how far we have come as a service. Join us in celebrating the Coast Guard’s 225th birthday today and throughout the rest of the year using #CG225th!

Service to Nation: 225 years strong.

From the first lifesaving stations on the shores of Massachusetts where crewmen rowed small, wooden boats into overpowering surf in hopes of rescuing people from storm-battered ships to the Coast Guard’s newest, largest and most technologically advanced 418-foot national security cutters designed to conduct multiple Coast Guard missions around the world, the Coast Guard has been there.

Brave Coast Guard men and women like Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro, who died evacuating Marines from Guadalcanal during World War II, and Lighthouse Keeper Ida Lewis, who is credited with saving the lives of at least 18 people during her 39 years of service at Lime Rock Light in Rhode Island, have dotted the Coast Guard’s 225 years of service.

When President George Washington passed the Tariff Act on Aug. 4, 1790, he likely didn’t know that the bill submitted by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton would create a service that would outlast the trials and tribulations of the nascent country, growing into the nation’s premier maritime law enforcement service.

With the passing of this bill, Hamilton was given the authority to build 10 cutters to protect the Nation’s lifeblood, our revenue. These 10 single-masted sailing ships, estimated to cost only $1,000 each, became known as the Revenue Cutters that marked the creation of our sea-going service.

The Coast Guard traces its roots to this day and celebrates the foundation laid by these early revenue cutters and the crews that selflessly served to protect our shores and guard the revenue that kept our country strong.

As the Nation grew, so did the Coast Guard. Over the past 225 years, Coast Guard missions have grown from enforcing revenue laws to ensuring maritime safety, security and stewardship along our shores and across the globe.

“The Coast Guard is more relevant today than at any time in our 225-year history,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft. “Transnational criminal organizations use drug profits to destabilize governments in our hemisphere. Our nation’s resurgence in American energy production has increased the flow of maritime commerce on our waterways. There is increased human activity in the Arctic and cyber threats endanger our digital systems. We are evolving to meet these challenges and invest in a 21st century Coast Guard that will continue our service to nation that is 225 years strong.”

The Coast Guard continues to celebrate the legacy of its formative services and the heroism of those who served. Our missions may have changed over the years, but one thing has remained constant: the selfless service of each and every person that takes the oath to protect their country as part of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Why do Coast Guard men and women choose to serve their nation? Watch the below video to find out! Join us in celebrating #CG225th today and throughout the rest of the year!

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