• Former DHS secretary: DHS has lost its way

    Former DHS secretary Tom Ridge recently said that, “[DHS has] kind of lost [its] way…The focus – the primary focus – has been substantially diminished.” Others echo Ridge’s concern, noting that the department, the budget of which has more than doubled since its inception, from $29 billion in 2003 to $61 billion next year, has been suffering from mission creep.

  • Former DHS IG altered oversight reports, shared information

    Charles Edwards, the acting DHS inspector general from 2011 through 2013, has been found to have routinely shared insider information with other department leaders, according to a new report from a the Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee published last week.

  • Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret) confirmed as DoE undersecretary for nuclear security, NNSA administrator

    Lieutenant General Frank G. Klotz, United States Air Force (Ret.), was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, 8 April 2014, as the Department of Energy’s undersecretary for nuclear security and administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

  • Johnson makes his presence known at DHS

    DHS spent much of 2013 operating with forty-eight vacancies in top management positions, but since Congress approved Jeh Johnson as head of DHS in December 2013, the department has successfully filled seventeen positions.The appointment of former chief technology officer for McAfee, Phyllis Schneck, as deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity,reflects Johnson’s attempt to bridge the gap between DHS and the private sector. Johnson has pushed for other changes in the 22-agency, 240,000-employee organization by introducing some operational philosophies gained from his time as General Counsel for the Defense Department. “Meetings at DHS are already starting about two hours earlier, like they did at DoD,” says one person with multiple contacts at the department.

  • Two politicians insisting on more congressional oversight of DHS

    The lawmakers who support the proposed DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, authored by Representative Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina), are doing exactly what they were sent to Washington to do: they are attempting to provide fiscal oversight over one of our largest federal agencies. Hopefully, politicians on both sides of the aisle will join Representatives Duncan and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) in passing legislation forcing DHS to use tax payer money in the most efficient ways possible, including demanding contractors meet the terms of their contracts, not rewarding contractors who have a record of poor performance, and completing their security-related projects in a timely manner.

  • Identifying, thwarting insider threats before they do damage

    Researchers argue that one way to identify and predict potential insider threats even before these individuals begin to do damage like stealing and leaking sensitive information, is by using Big Data to monitor changes in behavior patterns. Researchers at PARC, for example, found that individuals who exhibit sudden decrease in participation in group activity, whether in a game like World of Warcraft or corporate e-mail communications, are likely to withdraw from the organization. A withdrawal represents dissatisfaction with the organization, a common trait of individuals who are likely to engage in insider security breaches.

  • John Sandweg, acting ICE director, leaves post after five months

    John Sandweg, the acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Friday informed agency employees hat he was leaving his post, to which he was appointed by Janet Napolitano last August. Sandweg, an Arizona criminal defense attorney who knew Napolitano from her days in Arizona politics, came to Washington with her when she was became DHS secretary. His appointment to head ICE, the country’s second-largest law enforcement agency, was received with some surprise because his lack of law enforcement experience.

  • Federal, state chemical safety agencies increasingly hampered by budget cuts

    The budgets of state and federal agencies tasked with responding to the Elk River chemical spill have recently been cut, and these cuts have limited these agencies’ ability to prevent or respond to disasters such as the water crisis in West Virginia. “We do less,” said a CDC financial official, when asked the results of cuts. “What [the CDC director] has often been quoted as saying is that threats are not going down and so it is concerning to not be able to grow with the public health threats.”

  • CBP flew its drones on behalf of other agencies

    The U.S. Customs and Border Protection(CBP) operates the largest drone fleet in the United States. The Defense Departmenthas a much larger fleet, but it is prohibited from operating its drones in the United States for law enforcement missions. The FAA is working on opening U.S. skies for public and commercial drone traffic, but for now CBP is the only agency permitted to operate drones on a daily basis within the nation’s borders. Released documents show that agencies not allowed to operate drones borrowed them from CBP.

  • House bill cuts $200 million from DHS headquarters project

    The House yesterday (Wednesday) approved a spending measure which would reduce funding for a new DHS headquarters in Southeast Washington by about $200 relative to the funds requested by the agencies overseeing that project for 2014. DHS, created in 2003, is the third largest government department, and it operates out of fifty different facilities located in Washington, D.C. and neighboring states. In 2008 Congress approved the establishment of a single DHS campus on the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s, a former government-run mental hospital in Anacostia. The project has been hobbled by delays and cost overruns.

  • NY DHS chief uses handgun’s laser sighting device as laser pointer during presentation

    On 24 October, Jerome Hauer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s director of homeland security, made a presentation to Swedish emergency officials about New York State’s preparations for man-made and natural disasters. At some point during the presentation, Hauer wanted to use a laser pointer to highlight an item on a map of New York displayed on the wall behind him, but could not find the pointer. Instead, he pulled a loaded 9-millimeter Glock, which he always carries with him, and used the handgun’s laser sighting device to highlight the item.

  • Acting DHS IG, under investigation, steps down

    Charles K. Edwards, the embattled DHS acting inspector general, yesterday stepped down from his position and took another job in the department. Edwards was under investigation after allegations emerged that he misused his office and softened reports to keep from embarrassing the Obama administration. Late last month, the White House nominated John Roth, a criminal investigator at the Food and Drug Administration, to become the permanent inspector general.

  • Senate confirms Jeh Johnson as new DHS secretary

    Democrats yesterday (Monday) used the newly established lower threshold for ending filibusters to assure Senate confirmation of Jeh Johnson, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be DHS secretary. The Democrats, on a 57-37 vote, ended GOP procedural efforts to block Johnson before the Senate, minutes later, confirmed him on a 78-16 vote.

  • DHS fires Black supremacist employee

    DHS has fired Ayo Kimathi, the militant Black supremacist employee, after placing him on paid leave four months ago in order to conduct an administrative review of his conduct. Kimathi, who used to work in the procurement specialist at ICE, runs a Web site in which, among other racist rants, he calls for the mass killing of White people, describes President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and other successful African Americans as “black-skinned Uncle Tom race traitors,” and says that a woman’s primary role in life should be to “keep a strong Black man happy.”

  • Obama chooses John Roth for DHS IG

    The DHS Inspector General post has been vacant since early 2011, when Richard Skinner retired. Lawmakers say they welcome President Obama’s nomination of John Roth for the position. Roth has held different positions at the Department of Justice, and since last year has served as the head of the Food and Drug Administration’s office of criminal investigations. The inspector general’s office is currently headed by Charles Edwards, who has been under investigation for alleged improprieties, including complaints that he violated anti-nepotism rules by employing his wife as a supervisory auditor and changed audit findings in response to political pressure. Lawmakers have called on him to resign.