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June 9, 2015
3:51 pm

Caitlin Durkovich
Assistant Secretary, Office of Infrastructure Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

David Michaels
Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Mathy Stanislaus
Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The small town of West, Texas will never be the same after April 17, 2013, when the community was deeply shaken by a powerful explosion the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility that killed fifteen people and injured more than 160.  Investigators found that the explosion was caused by improperly stored Ammonium Nitrate.

In response, President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security in August of 2013. The order asks the Tri-Chairs of the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group (the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency), to work closely together to improve the of safety and security of chemical facilities across the country. The chairs have worked diligently over the past two years on the following areas:

  • Strengthening community planning and preparedness;
  • Enhancing federal operation coordination;
  • Improving data management;
  • Modernizing policies and regulations; and
  • Incorporating stakeholder feedback and developing best practices.

The working group knows that stakeholders are essential to managing and mitigating the risks of potential chemical facility hazards and has engaged in a robust stakeholder outreach effort to identify successes and best practices.  This outreach included engagement across all levels of government, with owners and operators, industry associations, labor organizations, and communities affected by chemical plant disasters.

One year ago, the working group released a status report to the president, entitled Actions to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security – A Shared Commitment, which summarized the Working Group’s actions, findings and lessons learned, challenges, and short and long-term priority actions to that point. Last year’s status report was a milestone, not an end-point.

Today we are releasing another update to highlight actions that have been taken since the release of the Final Status Report last year. These highlights include:

  • Developing an on-line training module on the key requirements under Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA);
  • Initiating a multi-organization working group to identify a list of government approved training courses for first responders and emergency planners, Training Repository;
  • Institutionalizing a Federal Working Group to improve communication and coordination between agencies;
  • Establishing Regional Working Groups in all ten Federal Regions;
  • Incorporating chemical facility safety and security data into the EPA’s facility registry service (FRS);
  • Reissuing the Chemical Advisory: Safe Storage, Handling, and management of Ammonium Nitrate to incorporate stakeholder comments and concerns and the latest practices in ammonium nitrate safety;
  • Hosted a public webinar to share updates on EO activities taken in November 2014 with the next webinar planned for June 19, 2015; and
  • Launching actions to modernize OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard and EPA’s Risk Management Program.

Safety and security are a shared commitment. We are committed to preventing more incidents like those in West, Texas, and ensuring that every worker comes home to their family safe and healthy at the end of every shift.

June 9, 2015
12:44 pm

Kathryn Brinsfield, Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs

As part of our mission, the DHS Office of Health Affairs works to ensure that first responders around the nation have the tools, information and resources they need to respond to incidents in their communities. In recent years, improvised explosive device (IED) and active shooter incidents reveal that some traditional practices of first responders need to be realigned and enhanced to improve the survivability of victims and the safety of first responders caring for them. To this end, OHA has drafted and released the “First Responder Guidance for Improving Survivability in Improvised Explosive Device and/or Active Shooter Incidents” to help address this issue.

OHA was supported in this effort by the White House, and partnered with several federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Justice and Transportation, to develop these recommendations. Based on best practices and lessons learned from civilian and military incidents, this guidance focuses on the medical response to IEDs and/or active shooter incidents with recommendations for hemorrhage control, personal protective equipment, and response and incident management. The recommendations presented will help to save lives by mitigating first responder risk, and improving the emergent and immediate medical management of casualties encountered during IED and/or active shooter incidents.

In February 2014, DHS brought a variety of first responder groups together so that unique solutions and perspectives that work for each community could be discussed and considered for adoption.  Representatives from state and local fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency management, and a number of federal organizations participated in subject matter expert presentations, as well as panel and group discussions, on response to IED and active shooter incidents.

I hope that all first responders will find the guidance beneficial and apply pieces of it to their communities.

For more information or to obtain a copy of the guidance, please visit


June 9, 2015
12:33 pm

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) brought together participants from the public and private sectors and academia in Boston for the first Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO) Workshop. This event provided a forum to discuss potential ISAO models, requirements, and possible limitations. Feedback from this session will be compiled into a Workshop Readout Report that outlines ideas from the workshop’s participants to inform future ISAO standards and best practices. DHS will hold additional ISAO workshops this summer to solicit further feedback from the stakeholder community.

Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations address two key questions raised by the private sector:

  • How can companies share information if they do not fit neatly into the sector-based structure of the existing Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs)?
  • If a group of companies wants to start an information sharing organization, what model should they follow? What are the best practices for such an organization?

ISAOs will allow companies and other entities to share information with each other on a voluntary basis and to robustly participate in DHS information sharing programs even if they do not fit into an existing critical infrastructure sector.

Over the last few months, DHS has been working to accelerate its cybersecurity information sharing efforts.  We have made significant progress in improving the scale, scope, and speed of information sharing and will continue to provide updates on our various initiatives.

If you are interested in participating in future ISAO Workshops, please contact More information about DHS ISAO efforts and engagements can be located at

May 27, 2015
8:20 am

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employee along with one of our valued partners have been named as recipients of 2015 International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc. (ISC)² U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Awards (GISLA). These prestigious awards, presented annually by the ISC², recognize individuals and teams whose initiatives, processes, and projects have significantly improved the security posture of their federal, state, or local department or agency or the Federal Government as a whole.

Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program manager and requirements and acquisition support branch chief John Simms was awarded the Technology Improvement Award for his innovative approach to rapidly deploy nearly $60 million of CDM tools to 21 agencies through a product-only task order focused on those agencies that could immediately benefit from additional tools. His effort not only supported rapid security improvement for those agencies, but resulted in $26 million in cost avoidance and an average of 30 percent reduction of GSA IT Schedule 70 prices. Through his efforts, John ensured that the critical capabilities necessary to meet emerging cyber threats government-wide were acquired to protect federal networks while saving taxpayer dollars.

The runner-up for the Technology Improvement Award was also from DHS’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications: Preston Werntz, senior strategist leading the Trusted Automated Exchange of Indicator Information (TAXII) server program. Preston was nominated for leading the TAXII pilot, which tested automated delivery of Structured Threat Information eXpression (STIX) indicators to enable cyber threat information sharing in near-real time.

The CERT Coordinating Center (CERT/CC) Vulnerability Research and Coordination team from the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute was awarded the Most Valuable Industry Partner Award. This key partner, who works closely with DHS’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), won the award for pioneering efforts in vulnerability research automation for existing and emerging computing domains. Their efforts have significantly improved the larger US-CERT mission of improving information security and providing value to industry partners.

Finally, DHS’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) was the runner-up for the Community Awareness Award for their Action Campaign to educate partners about two cyber exploitation campaigns caused by Black Energy and Havex malware.

Congratulations to John, Preston, the ICS-CERT team and our partners who were well-represented among the 2015 GISLA winners and finalists. These awards are a testament to the excellent and important work our employees across the Department do every day to improve the cybersecurity posture of the entire Federal Government and enhance the security of our Nation’s critical networks.

May 22, 2015
2:59 pm

Celebrating the U.S. Coast Guard Academy class of 2015

Celebrating the U.S. Coast Guard Academy class of 2015. This year’s commencement speaker was President Barack Obama. As one of the smallest of the five federal service academies, the Coast Guard Academy offers a quality higher education experience that emphasizes leadership, physical fitness and professional development. Cadets devote themselves to an honor concept and go directly into positions of leadership in service to others.

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley  |  Download High-Resolution Image (960x640)

May 22, 2015
11:47 am

Today, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) held its 30th annual ceremony honoring FLETC basic academy graduates and local area law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.   Nearly all federal officers and agents begin their law enforcement careers at FLETC, participating in basic training,  beginning of a lifelong membership in the law enforcement family. 

More than one million law enforcement officers have trained at FLETC. The FLETC Graduates Memorial is a constant reminder of why we train—to prepare and equip every officer and agent to protect our homeland, and themselves. 

 At this year’s ceremony those FLETC graduates who made the ultimate sacrifice were honored with a motorcycle procession, which included local retired and active duty law enforcement officers.

This year, six new names were engraved onto the granite panels of the FLETC Graduates Memorial, bringing the total to 205 FLETC graduates who have lost their lives since our establishment in 1970.  During today’s ceremony, FLETC honored these officers:

  • Osvaldo Albarati – Federal Bureau of Prisons
  • Jason Crisp – U.S. Forest Service
  • Alexander Giannini – U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol
  • Tyler Robledo – U.S. Customs and Border Protection,Border Patrol
  • Clinton Holtz – U.S. Capitol Police
  • Stephen Shaw – Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General

Hundreds of FLETC and partner organization staff, students, local community members and leaders, and congressional staff gathered to remember the individuals we have lost.The FLETC Graduates Memorial and annual ceremony reinforce our mission and exemplify the dedication and commitment of the FLETC staff and instructors. Those lost this year will forever remain a part of our law enforcement family and will never be forgotten.

For additional information and a full listing of the names on the FLETC Graduates Memorial, visit our website at

May 19, 2015
12:02 pm

During National Police Week 2015, the Department of Homeland Security recognized and remembered those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice as they served, protected, and defended this great nation.

“Members of law enforcement, members of the police force, members of Federal law enforcement are like a family, and what we say to family members on occasions like this is there are no words to console your grief to help you through the loss of your loved one except that you should know that we will never let you be alone. You’ll always be a part of our family.” – Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson.


Secretary Johnson, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas, and DHS leaders across the Department participated in a number of events throughout the week to pay tribute to law enforcement, including DHS employees. From the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s annual Candlelight Vigil, we are starkly reminded of the dangers that the men and women in law enforcement face each and every day. We honor these heroes and we thank these heroes, not just during National Police Week, but every day of the year.

May 18, 2015
10:00 am

By Dr. Kathryn Brinsfield, Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs & Chief Medical Officer

The Department of Homeland Security is proud to recognize Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week – an opportunity to focus on the important work of our EMS providers and thank them for their service and protection. These individuals, who often put themselves at personal risk to help others, play a critical role in our Nation’s homeland security.

In the DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA), we continue to do our part in supporting EMS providers. For example, over the past year our Chemical Defense program completed the “Patient Decontamination in a Mass Chemical Exposure Incident” planning guidance for communities. This guidance is intended to support state and local civilian first responders and health care receivers, along with emergency managers, public health practitioners, law enforcement officials, and risk communications experts who are the nation’s first line of defense.

We at DHS work to prepare all first responders for emergencies to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to protect and care for our communities in stressful and challenging circumstances. For our DHS responders, we are continuing our efforts to develop training focused on resilience and peer-support. Each day the men and women of DHS take on difficult tasks in order to keep our Nation safe; we can do our part by offering programs and support to keep their strengthen their resilience.

We believe strongly in the balance of work and family life, and encourage all responders to do the same. Take time to spend with families and friends – these moments are important to overall well-being.

To all EMS providers, please take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of others. You serve an important role in your communities and we thank you for that!

May 7, 2015
3:00 pm

The Department of Homeland Security builds partnerships at the regional, state and local level to protect the critical infrastructure that supports much of our daily life. We value these relationships because the vast majority of the nation’s critical infrastructure – transportation networks, electric grids, wastewater treatment plants, and supply chains – are owned by the private sector and operate under a variety of state and local laws. 

As part of these efforts, the DHS Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP) examines critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, threats, and potential impacts in order to identify gaps, interdependencies, and the potential for cascading regional or national effects. Programs like the RRAP are even more important when we recognize that different regions of the country face different and unique hazards which affect different resources. However, a disruption in one community can affect goods and services elsewhere.

Today, members of the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection participated in a table-top exercise in Maine. This exercise was the capstone event of more than a year of activities that included workshops, assessments, open-source research, and subject matter expertise interviews with federal, state and local officials and the critical infrastructure community. This is the first ever RRAP to focus on the consequences of climate change. 

Long-term trends point to climate change as a major threat to critical infrastructure and the cascading effects will affect virtually all aspects of our way of life.  Through this RRAP, DHS is working with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the impacts of climate change. With many of its transportation, electrical and drinking water assets vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surge, the safety, economic prosperity and quality of life of Maine residents could ultimately be at stake.

The Maine RRAP is just one example of the type of collaboration and initiatives needed to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure and keep the public safe. Through RRAPs, DHS  produces a comprehensive Resiliency Assessment that identifies key resilience gaps and options for addressing these shortfalls. Information garnered from the Resiliency Assessment provides options for consideration for enhanced resilience activities, and can be used as a model for resilience improvements in similar situations beyond the immediate project.  In addition, the information provided to select facility owners and operators, regional organizations, and government agencies helps to guide strategic investments in equipment, planning, training, and resources to enhance the resilience and protection of facilities, surrounding communities, and entire regions.

Following the table-top exercise, DHS will continue to provide technical assistance in support of regional stakeholders’ adaptation plans and actions. Concurrently, we will use the Maine assessment as a model for other RRAPs to inform and expand outreach efforts with our partners to strengthen climate change adaptation planning across the country.

May 6, 2015
11:52 am

By RDML Joanna M. Nunan, USCG, Military Advisor to the Secretary

On Monday, Secretary Jeh Johnson, joined by Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, traveled to Norfolk, Va. where they observed a one-of-a-kind maritime counter-terrorism team: the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT). After boarding a 45-foot Response Boat, Secretary Johnson witnessed an exercise in which members of the USCG MSRT boarded a cruise vessel by helicopter and small boat. 

us coast guard

 Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team members climb a hook ladder to board a civilian passenger ship during a MSRT training demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay near Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The MSRT is a specialized response team with advanced counter-terrorism skills and tactics. Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler.

Afterward, the delegation observed the MSRT respond to various law enforcement situations, and demonstrating the detection of explosive and other potential threats with various types of equipment uniquely suited for maritime situations.

helicopter and ship

Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team members climb a hook ladder to board a civilian passenger ship during a MSRT training demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay near Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The MSRT is a specialized response team with advanced counter-terrorism skills and tactics. Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler.

The Department is celebrating Public Service Recognition Week by highlighting the complex and versatile skills of the men and women who make up the U.S. Coast Guard. Consistent training exercises like these are one way the Coast Guard remains Semper Paratus – always ready. 

Secretary and Response Team

Secretary Johnson is shown here with the Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team and several other Coast Guardsman in Virginia, May 4th, 2015. Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler.




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