• Border Patrol relies in obsolescent surveillance gear

    An Obama administration plan to update equipment the Border Patrol is using did not materialize, and now officials are concerned about  outdated equipment putting the lives of agents in danger; the sensors now in use were originally said to be able to put Border Patrol agents in position to capture 90 percent of border invaders, but the DHS inspector general determined that just 4 percent of the alarms were confirmed cases of smugglers and border crossers; 34 percent were false alarms, and 62 percent were undetermined

  • Sequestration-related defense budget cuts in 2013 to increase from $50.5 to $60.6 billion

    Defense contractors are already worried about $50 billion dollars which would be cut from the defense budget on 3 January 2013 if the White House and Congress fail to reach an agreement on a deficit reduction plan; budget analysts point out that due to a provision in the Budget Control Act, another $10 billion will be added to that amount, bringing the total in defense cuts in 2013 to $60.6 billion

  • GOP lawmakers advise defense contractors to issue sequestration-related layoff notices

    The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires that an employer who employs more than 100 employees must provide a 60-day advanced notice to employees of mass layoffs or the closing of a plant; if the act is not followed, employees can sue for back pay and benefits for up to sixty days; the Obama administration advised defense contractors that they should not comply with the act, even in the face of the 2 January 2013 $500 billion cut in the defense budget which would go into effect if no deficit reduction agreement is reached; if contracts are cancelled and mass lay-offs ensue, the administration said it would cover the defense contractors’ non-compliance-related legal costs; Republican lawmakers say they would block any payments to cover such non-compliance, and advised defense contractors that they should follow the law

  • Defense firms growing anxious about sequestration-related defense cuts

    Defense contractors are growing anxious as they still do not know whether $500 billion in defense cuts will take place on 1 January 2013 as a result of sequestration; many firms are hoping that the administration and Congress will come to a budget agreement once the election is over, but at the same time, it is something contractors cannot rely on; what complicates the issue is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which requires employers with more than 100 employees to give employees a 60-day notice before mass lay-offs or plant closure

  • Small airports face reduction in TSA funding for security measures

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reducing funding designated to help smaller airports provide law enforcement officers at passenger screenings; since the 9/11 attacks, the TSA mandated that one law enforcement officer be present when commercial passengers are screened at airports; the TSA has now changed the way it circulates funding for this program, reducing the number of hours an officer has to work and the amount he or she will be paid

  • Sequestration would result in draconian cuts in biological, medical research

    The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology says that sequestration would result in draconian cuts in biological and medical research; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be reduced by $2.529 billion, the National Science Foundation would lose $586 million, and the Department of Energy Office of Science would be cut by $400 million

  • Storing government records for generations to come

    A White House directive released last week requires that federal agencies adopt systems which will store and manage all electronic records in order to keep them safe and secure for future generations

  • Scaled-back Kansas biolab would meet U.S. needs

    A report by the National Research Council says that it is “imperative” that the United States build a large-animal biocontainment laboratory to protect animal and public health; two options are acceptable: a $1.4 billion Biosafety Level 4 laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas, or a scaled-back Kansas lab tied to a distributed laboratory network in other facilities; a third option will not meet U.S. needs: maintaining current capabilities at Plum Island Animal Disease Center, because the Plum Island facilities do not meet current standards for high biocontainment

  • Study suggests ways to cut billions from Pentagon budget

    The Department of Defense currently spends $400 billion each year acquiring products and services from defense contractors. About $100 billion of the money is spent on administrative costs; one way to reduce the high administrative cists could be “relational contracting,” a concept that has helped private industry dramatically reduce the costs of doing business

  • New contracting model would allow the Pentagon to do more with less

    Old-school, transactional product support paid defense contractors to ship spare parts and do repairs; it paid contractors to “fix-on-failure”; management experts say that DoD should adopt a different contracting model: Performance-Based Life Cycle Product Support Management, or PBL; under PBL, the military buys system performance, or outcomes, rather than products or services, and a contractor is responsible for providing a defined level of equipment readiness or availability, whatever the cost

  • DHS FY2013 $5.75 billion IT budget request focuses on mobility, data center consolidation

    DHS FY2013 IT spending requests are roughly even with FY2012 levels, with emphasis on commodity IT, mobility, and data center consolidation; the overall 2013 DHS budget request is just under $40 billion; the department’s IT budget request is just over $5.75 billion; down from $5.79 billion in FY2012

  • Homeland Security appropriations bill passes Senate subcommittee

    The bill provides $45.2 billion in discretionary spending — $1 billion below fiscal year 2012; , among the measure’s highlights: $8.9 billion in discretionary spending for the Coast Guard, $6.1 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), and $16.9 million for cyber education; it also includes a provision adjusting the criteria used to determine whether Community Disaster Loans provided after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are eligible for cancellation

  • Budget pressures lead Nevada to reduces state’s anti-terrorism programs

    The Nevada Homeland Security Commission, faced with a 60 percent cut in federal homeland security funds, drastically reduced the state’s anti-terrorism programs; six programs eliminated, while remaining programs will have to manage with less

  • DHS cuts grants to states, emphasizes maintenance

    Over the past few years, DHS has been cutting funding for grants to state and emergency response agencies; the billions of dollars given to states after 2011 have been used to buy many pieces of first-response and law-enforcement equipment, and DHS now emphasizes the maintenance of that equipment

  • Brown graduate students help bankrupt city create disaster plan

    To help the cash-stricken city of Central Falls, Rhode Island, thirty graduate students from Brown University have banded together to help create a disaster preparedness plan