April 7, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Open Government Plan. After a year of success, the Department’s commitment to increasing transparency, participation, and collaboration across its mission functions is stronger than ever. Since issuing the plan, the Department has made significant strides in improving collaboration with other federal agencies, as well as state, local, and tribal governments and law enforcement agencies.
DHS has fostered community involvement and participation through various Web challenges and outreach. The Department also re-launched its Open Government website, www.dhs.gov/open, to better reflect DHS efforts to improve transparency, collaboration and participation. The new interface allows for easier navigation and provides better context for the information posted.
Below are some successes from the first year under the DHS Open Government Plan.
Collaboration is an important element of preventing terrorism and enhancing security. The Department has continued to collaborate with other governments through State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers. In addition, two of the Department’s Flagship Open Government Initiatives have fostered collaboration across federal, state, local and community organizational boundaries.
Virtual USA (vUSA) has proven how vital collaboration and transparency are to critical mission success. vUSA is a collaborative effort among DHS Science & Technology, other DHS entities, and State and local emergency management agencies. The vUSA approach blends process and technology, helping agencies develop relationships and agreements among partners, while providing the data pipeline that allows agencies to easily share information. Participating agencies make their data available to others as a Web link and pull others’ links from the vUSA Prototype to display in their own map viewers. The success of vUSA rests not only on improving technical capabilities, but on encouraging trusted relationships among the community at all levels.
Following the earthquake in Haiti, survivors whose homes were destroyed were offered flights to the U.S. Because of relationships established between Florida and South Carolina as a result of their participation in vUSA, the two states shared real-time information of their major airports’ flight statuses to help determine when flights needed to be redirected due to volume. This partnership resulted in the safe, efficient passage of Haitians into the region.
National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign
The Department is working with organizations such as the National Cyber Security Alliance, to help families understand the importance of cybersecurity. Through this collaboration, DHS is raising awareness of the shared responsibility of working together to improve personal cybersecurity, as well as the security of American cyberspace.
More on our Flagship Initiatives.
Public engagement is critical to mission success at DHS. In July 2010, DHS, at Secretary Janet Napolitano’s direction, launched a national “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign —a simple and effective program to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities. The campaign was originally used by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which has licensed the use of the slogan to DHS to help with anti-terrorism and anti-crime efforts.
Most recently the Department launched the campaign with the NCAA and plans to continue its partnerships in the coming weeks and months.
In order to leverage the vast experiences of the American people, DHS and its component agencies have embraced the Open Government concept of public participation through Web challenges. These challenges encourage the American people to use their expertise and creativity to help DHS inform the public on pressing issues of security and resiliency.
The Department has launched three challenges to engage the public in the shared responsibility of homeland security. The National Cybersecurity Challenge, Stop.Think.Connect, asked the public to develop 30-60 minute video clips to raise awareness about the dangers associated with cyber space. FEMA hosted the Disaster Preparedness Challenge to generate ideas to improve disaster preparedness across the country. The Office of General Council is conducting a review to determine whether DHS should modify, streamline, expand, or repeal any regulations. The goal is to make the Department's regulatory program more effective or less burdensome, while still achieving regulatory objectives.
A transparency tool developed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was recently named the “Best Government Mobile App” by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council. The innovative MyTSA mobile Web and iPhone application allows users to check which airports are experiencing delays; type in items to find out if they are permitted on board; view security wait times; and review a consolidated guide to the most frequently requested security information, including rules for carry-on items and tips for how to dress and pack to minimize security time.
To get MyTSA on your mobile device, type in www.tsa.gov/mobile.
You can find the MyTSA iPhone app on iTunes.