Government - federal, state, local

  • ImmigrationCBP violated rules in deporting thousands of unaccompanied children

    A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit says U.S. Border Patrol agents were in violation of agency rules when, between 2009 and 2014, they deported thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children. The GAO said that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) repatriated 93 percent of unaccompanied children under age 14 from Mexico and Canada – and did so without documenting what procedures they followed to ascertain that the children would be safe when they return to their home countries.

  • AmmoQuestions arise over ammunition purchases at Hoover Dam

    Periodically, questions arise regarding the amount of ammunition purchased by the federal government’s non-military agencies. One must take into account the nature of an agency’s mission and the number of armed personnel included in its ranks. Factor in the number of rounds expended in training and practice, and it becomes clear that the large ammunition purchases make sense. One such instanced surfaced late last week, when it was disclosed that the federal Bureau of Reclamation has requested a purchase of 52,000 rounds of ammunition for law enforcement personnel at Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.

  • Counterterrorism grantsNew York state, city officials mismanaged millions in anti-terror grants: DHS IG

    A new report from DHS Inspector General found that New York City and the state of New York have mismanaged millions of dollars in federal grants meant to help improve homeland security. DHS IG found that New York officials spent nearly 10 percent – or $67 million of the $725 million granted during three years by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) — on questionable costs not in line with homeland security goals or strategies.

  • CBPViolence and corruption scandal at CBP: FBI clean up or cover up? Pt. 6

    By Robert Lee Maril

    It has been more than a year since James F. Tomsheck, the senior executive at Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs (CBP IA), was unceremoniously reassigned to a new position at CBP. In response to his demotion from assistant commissioner at CBP IA, Tomsheck lambasted CBP leadership with charges of rampant mismanagement and accused CBP employees of widespread violence and corruption. Have these systemic problems within the largest federal law enforcement agency in the land been resolved, or have the FBI, CBP, and DHS senior leadership chosen to ignore these problems? Is there reasonable public accountability for the alleged criminal behavior at CBP and CBP IA, or are the alleged victims — all the honest, hardworking CBP employees, and the general public — still in the dark about both the hard facts and the consequences of this unprecedented scandal? In short, has there been a clean-up or a cover up?

  • CBPCBP IA eliminates Tomsheck’s integrity program division

    Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs (CBP IA) created a new division named the Threat Mitigation Division (TMD). According to an internal document, this new division — officially launched on 13 April — merges the Integrity Program Division (IPD) with the Counterintelligence and Operations Liaison Group (CIOLG).The stated mission of the new Threat Mitigation Division at CBP IA is, “To identify internal and external threats to CBP’s mission, information and people, and to develop and implement strategies to mitigate the identified threat.”

  • CybersecurityEfforts to improve cyber information sharing between the private sector, government

    Lately, Obama administration officials having been venturing West to encourage tech firms to support the government’s efforts to improve cyber information sharing between the private sector and government agencies. The House of Representatives last week passed two bills to advance such effort. The Protecting Cyber Networks Act and the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015 authorize private firms to share threat data such as malware signatures, Internet protocol addresses, and domain names with other companies and the federal government. To the liking of the private sector, both bills offer companies liability protection for participating in cyberthreat information sharing.

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  • CBPCBP IA Operation Hometown reduces violence and corruption: Tomsheck shuts it down -- Pt. 5

    By Robert Lee Maril

    Operation Hometown appears to be yet another example in a series of programs at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) demonstrating blatant dysfunctionality and mismanagement within the Department of Homeland Security. Meticulously designed to target border violence and corruption among CBP employees, Operation Hometown was labeled a success in reaching its stated objectives. CBP Internal Affair’s (IA) James F. Tomsheck,however, shut the program down. As Congress and President Obama debate various aspects of a new federal immigration policy,few politicians are willing to acknowledge the serious problems at CBP Internal Affairs – but they should, as these problems may directly impact the success of any or all new immigration reforms.

  • BiolabsK-State animal health expert selected to lead NBAF strategic partnership effort

    The Department of Homeland Security has selected Marty Vanier, the K-State’s director of operations at the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, to be the senior program manager for strategic partnership development at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF. Vanier will start her new responsibilities with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate this month. Construction on the $1.25 billion animal disease research laboratory will begin in May and is expected to be completed in 2020. The lab is on the northeast edge of Kansas State University’s Manhattan campus.

  • Chemical safetyHead of Chemical Safety Board resigns under WH pressure, lawmakers’ criticism

    Rafael Moure-Eraso, the chairman of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board(CSB), resigned after increased pressure from lawmakers and at the White House’s request. Under Moure-Eraso, complaints have risen regarding poor management, his use of a personal e-mail account for agency work, “abuse of power, employee retaliation, and lack of honesty in his communications with Congress,” according to an 18 March letter from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.C

  • InfrastructureU.S. economy imperiled by crumbling infrastructure

    The U.S. economy remains strong, but the nation’s dated, crumbling public infrastructure may threaten its future dominance, according to experts. The World Economic Forum (WEF) placed the United States 25th in infrastructure investment and 30th in air transportation, a field previously dominated by the United States. Since the 1960s, public spending on infrastructure, as a share of GDP, has dropped to around half the European average and, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reckons, $3.6trn will have to be spent if the U.S. is to catch up.

  • ResilienceStates must consider climate change threats to be eligible for FEMA disaster preparation funds

    Roughly every five years, states publish reports detailing their vulnerability to natural disasters, qualifying them for part of the nearly $1 billion aid money administered annually by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). States looking to receive grants from the federal Hazard Mitigation Assistance program to help them prepare for natural disasters such as floods, storms, and wildfires will have,beginning next year, to consider the threats posed by climate change.

  • DHS budgetDHS shutdown averted as House passes “clean” funding bill

    The House yesterday voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security to the end of the fiscal year, without conditioning the extension on defunding the implementation of Obama’s immigration executive order. The “clean” funding bill passed on a 257-167 vote, with seventy-five Republicans joining all 182 Democrats to avert a shutdown. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a rare move for a speaker, left his chair and went to the House floor to cast a vote in favor of the funding extension. In a speech to the Republican caucus on Tuesday, just before Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress, Boehner presented members of the caucus with three options: another stopgap bill, taking up a “clean” bill which has already passed the Senate, and a Friday-into-Saturday shutdown of DHS. Boehner told fellow Republicans that he did not want to run the risk of a DHS shutdown, which, he stressed, “wasn’t an option” with the current level of threats to national security.

  • DHS fundingHouse votes for one-week extension of DHS funding

    On Friday, just hours before the partial shut-down of DHS, the House Republican leadership, with the help of Democratic lawmakers, managed to secure a majority for a one-week extension of the funding for the department. The vote for a one-week extension passed 357 to 60 — but not before a humiliating defeat for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and members of the GOP House leadership. The leadership was convinced it had the votes for a three-week extension, but that proposal was defeated when more than fifty Republican lawmakers bolted and voted against the bill – and their leaders. Democrats lawmakers then came to the help of the speaker, voting for the one-week extension on what they regard as a tacit understanding that toward the end of this week the House will vote on a “clean” extension of the DHS budget to the end of the fiscal year.

  • Cyber operationsThe CIA bolsters cyber operations

    The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is planning to join the growing list of U.S. intelligence and security agencies which have redefined their missions to include cyber operations — in the CIA’s case, cyber espionage. Current and former agency officials say the new effort will be part of the broad restructuring of an intelligence service long defined by its human spy work. The shift also reflects the increasing role cyber plays in intelligence gathering, with allies and adversaries relying on smartphones, social media, and other technologies to communicate.

  • DHS budgetMcConnell’s DHS budget plan: “No” to 2014 exec. order, “Yes” to 2012 one

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has put forth a plan to avoid a DHS shutdown after Senate Democrats on Monday refused to approve a Republican-backed $40 billion DHS appropriation which would defund President Barack Obama’s 2014 immigration actions in order to fund DHS. McConnell’s plan would eliminate Obama’s 2014 immigration action to extend deportation deferment to some undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents via the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans(DAPA), but allow a similar 2012 planfor younger undocumented immigrants to continue.