Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 3, 2007

US-VISIT Xfer to NPPD Billed as Info-Sharing Imperative

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 3, 2007

Deputy Under Secretary for Preparedness Robert Zitz and Acting Director for US-VISIT Robert Mocny testified March 20 before the House Homeland Security Committee about the National Preparedness and Protection Directorate (NPPD). 

Zitz said the NPPD will integrate risk reduction activities of the Office of Infrastructure Protection, Office of Cyber Security and Communications, and US-VISIT.  Mocny explained that US-VISIT will move to the new Directorate to support DHS-wide risk management efforts, but also to better share VISIT-gathered information across other authorities of the USG (State, DOJ, the intelligence community). 

Connecting up State, Justice, and the IC with information gathered from screening conducted by ICE, CBP, USCIS, Consular offices, and FBI sounds like an important priority, and a significant undertaking.  Oversight of this kind of information sharing would appear to be almost as difficult given the privacy issues and permissions likely to be involved, let alone the coordination of it to reduce redundant screening and resolve inconsistent data.  Where the DHS Screening Coordination Office fits into this effort is pretty important, too.  I did not attend this hearing so I do not know if Members raised the SCO an issue.  If any readers have insight on this, please comment.

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Comment by Anonymous Coward

April 4, 2007 @ 3:18 pm

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, considering the turmoil among the pertinent leadership. Both Zitz and Foresman will be gone soon, Jamison’s moving in as NPPD Deputy, Mocny is officially the VISIT Director, and Lockwood just assumed leadership of SCO. I expect if VISIT transfers under NPPD it will largely be in name only, at least until NPPD gets its footing and recovers from its second re-org (IAIP to Preparedness to NPPD).

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 7, 2007 @ 8:13 am

Once again Us-VISIT becomes a political football. The program is very very necessary but of course has yet to fully succeed despite a clear statutory mandate after 9/11. Secretary Chertoff clearly has a tin-ear when it comes to politics. At least Secretary Ridge who had no instinct for policy or administration could claim to have been the successful governor of a large state. Many of his former state employees survive in DHS. I think the real problem is that no one has what the Brits call “GRIP” on the Department. With 800 political appointed or heavily influenced top personnel each with their own agendas how could it be improved. Let’s try the management tack of 5 year enforceable contracts for all employees that are political but not PAS and give each a position description and performance plans. DHS is now clearly headed to breakup under the DEMS should they take the Presidency. It is clear that not only the programs, functions, and activities inherited from DOJ by DHS were underfunded, poorly staffed, and had mostly been mismanaged for 40 years in DOJ but they deserve their own administrative unit independent of DHS. In the meantime, TSA and FEMA and other issues critical to Homeland Security suffer under the Department umbrella. For example, a recent Federal Register notice by OPM confirms that FEMA is down to 7 Career-reserved positions from almost 40 at one time. This is just too much. Now the elements of the former DOJ unit known as INS lodged in DHS are in a panic as they discover that if CASTRO dies, many CUBANS don’t want to wait around but instead want what their brothers and sisters have in the US and plan to get their anyway they can. The next big mission for the US Navy will be supporting guess who, that underfunded, understaffed COAST GUARD. The DISTANT SHORE plan was never completed while in DOJ even though statutorily mandated after FEMA handled the MARIEL BOATLIFT under President Jimmy CARTER. Let’s see how DHS handles this one.

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