• House Republicans slash funds for border security, immigration enforcement

    House Republicans voted to slash spending for border security and immigration enforcement for the remainder of this fiscal year by an estimated $600 million; the House budget allocates $350 million less for border security fencing, infrastructure, and technology than Congress approved last year, and $124 million below what DHS requested; the bill also cuts an estimated $159 million over last year for Customs and Border Protection modernization and construction programs, and is $40 million less than the agency sought to get the job done

  • Critics: tough talk on border security not backed up with funds

    Last August, with virtually unanimous bipartisan support, Congress increased border funding by $600 million, adding 1,000 new agents to the Border Patrol; Republicans complained this was not enough — citing a GAO report that said that by the Border Patrol’s own standards, the agency had “operational control” over only 873 miles of the 2,000-mile border with Mexico in 2010, or about 44 percent; Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said administration officials “are either blissfully unaware of the massive holes in security along the Southern border or are intentionally misleading the American people”; trouble is, as part of their $60 billion in budget cuts, Republicans propose shrinking the Border Patrol by 870 agents and cut $272 million in funds for surveillance systems to monitor the border with Mexico

  • DHS requesting boost in cybersecurity funds

    Government, industry, and academia have labeled the shortage of cyber specialists in the government as a national security problem; the United States is looking to hire 30,000 security experts to safeguard cyberspace as opposed to the 1,000 personnel currently staffed government wide; DHS has requested $936 million in funding for FY 2012 to grow the federal cybersecurity workforce and enhance network protections

  • New DHS budget includes more money for airport scanners

    As lawmakers are trimming the budgets of many programs and agencies in an effort to reduce the deficit, funding for airport scanners has increased; overall discretionary funding for DHS has grown 0.7 percent to $43.2 billion, and includes more funding for full-body scanners; the Obama administration’s budget request allocates $77 million for the purchase of 275 additional full-body scanners; each scanner costs $280,000 and the additional order will bring the total number of scanners deployed at U.S. airports to 1,275; the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has introduced new software that projects a non-gender specific image to ease concerns over privacy issues that sparked a backlash last year

  • Coast Guard works to prevent rising mission-related deaths

    Admiral Robert Papp, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), announced that the service is conducting a comprehensive review and may eliminate certain missions and capabilities, in light of the sharp increase of mission related deaths; in the past two years, fourteen Coast Guard aviators and one Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) member have died in accidents that occurred during routine missions; Admiral Papp is concerned that service members are overburdened by training for too many different skill sets and have had inadequate time to master them; since 9/11 USCG has added missions and capabilities without a corresponding increase in service personnel; Papp cites a helicopter crash in July 2010 that killed three aviators as evidence; the crash occurred during a routine mission in which the team was flying from Astoria, Oregon to Sitka, Alaska

  • Obama asks for $43.8 billion for DHS -- 2 percent increase over 2011

    TSA hopes to buy more full-body scanners; already TSA has deployed nearly 500 of the scanners at 78 airports, and Obama’s budget proposed having as many as 1,275 installed by the end of 2012; the proposed budget also includes additional funds, about $3 billion, better to protect against a chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological attack as well as critical infrastructure like power grids

  • FDA looks for ways to fund $1.4 billion Food Safety Reform Act

    Food-borne illness strikes 40 million Americans, hospitalizing 100,000, and killing thousands each year; on 4 January President Obama signed the long-awaited FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act into law — sweeping legislation that overhauls U.S. food-safety laws for the first time in more than seventy years; the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the food-safety law would cost about $1.4 billion in its first five years, including the cost of hiring an estimated 2,000 additional food inspectors; the passage of the legislation now presents FDA with the question of how to procure the funding required to implement and enforce the new system

  • Pentagon's budget cuts could signal future Homeland Security cuts

    National security budgets are no longer safe from cuts; lawmakers are increasingly targeting military, veterans, and Homeland Security budgets for cuts despite agreements and precedent to the contrary; on Thursday the Pentagon announced over $150 billion in savings that include $78 billion in budget cuts and a potential increase in fees for veterans’ healthcare; DHS cuts could be on their way next

  • Closing of U.K. forensics research centers triggers protest

    The U.K. government announced that the Forensic Science Service — a leading research center based in Birmingham, United Kingdom — will be closed by 2012 because of budgetary reasons; law enforcement leaders and scientists calls on the government to reconsider the decision, saying that “The reputation of forensic science in the U.K. will undoubtedly diminish —- The lack of research means that we will be lagging behind the rest of the world, and justice will suffer”

  • New congressional majority could scale back U.S. science budgets

    President Barack Obama has ordered all federal agencies that are not linked to national security to reduce by 5 percent their budget requests for 2012 compared to the 2011 budget year; if Republicans hold to their pre-election pledge, non-defense related federal research spending could dip more than 12 percent to around $58 billion — compared to $66 billion requested by the White House for 2011

  • U.K. outlines counter-terrorism priorities

    The Home Secretary’s priorities are to: enhance protective security measures, invest in conflict prevention and stopping overseas terrorist plots, refocus the U.K. strategy for preventing radicalization, and strike a better balance between liberty and security

  • U.K. defense cuts may benefit engineering industries

    The U.K. defense industry is bracing itself for tens of thousands of private-sector job losses following the government’s budget cuts; for all the negativity of defense cuts, an influx of engineers into the employment market, combined with investment in infrastructure, raises the question of whether other industries might stand to benefit

  • U.K.'s government unveils £200 billion National Infrastructure Plan

    David Cameron announces infrastructure plan to rebuild the economy a week after sweeping government cuts; the plan calls for a government commitment of over £40 billion directed to infrastructure projects, including a Green Investment Bank that provides up to £1 billion toward a commercial scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects; £30 billion for transportation, including a high speed rail network, maintenance, and investment in local roads and rail and funding towards the Network Rail

  • Budget cuts harm cybersecurity in the states, survey says

    New survey finds that many states lack sufficient cybersecurity resources; the problem is not just funding: many state CISOs lack the visibility and authority to effectively drive security down to the individual agency level

  • Boeing hints at interest in buying Northrop

    In the face of likely deep cuts in some areas of the U.S. defense budget, speculations circulate that Boeing is looking to purchase companies active in those areas of the defense budget which are growing — UAVs, cyber security, and intelligence and surveillance systems; a likely candidate for acquisition: Northrop Grumman, a key player in these fields