Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 30, 2008

New Assistant Secretary Named for DHS

Filed under: International HLS,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 30, 2008

Carol Haave will be named the next DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs on (or around) July 7, 2008. While it may at first seem ironic that our Homeland Security agency has an international affairs portfolio, this is perhaps one of the more interesting and valuable position in the DHS leadership. Readers will be familiar with proposals made here and elsewhere for an elevated role for the A/S for International Affairs at DHS. The previous occupant, Marissa Lino, is a former diplomat. (She left unexpectedly after only months on the job.) The new A/S has a decidedly different background on the international scene.

Haave served as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security and Information Operations. In those positions, she led the development of the Iraq National ID Card program. Additionally, she led a cross-DOD team to develop policies, process, and procedures for sharing counterterrorism information with coalition partners.

Prior to joining DOD in 2001, Haave spent more than 15 years as a consultant to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. There she focused on transitioning technology into the military and commercial markets, and was a team leader for the House Appropriations Committee Surveys and Investigations Staff.

She received a direct commission as a military police officer in the Army and was one of the first female Army officers to attend airborne school.

Congress Sheds Light on DHS Risk Management Function

Filed under: Risk Assessment — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 30, 2008

Last week the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure Protection convened a public hearing to address the ways in which DHS is focused on assessing and managing risk. The hearing highlighted the risk posed by the chemical facility industry, but also invoked such policy issues as public-private partnerships, governance mechanisms, and expectations of the public.

Two recent publications entered into the record by Chairwoman Jackson-Lee were “Challenges of Applying Risk Management to Terrorism Security Policy,” and the April 2008 report by GAO, entitled “Highlights of a Forum: Strengthening the Use of Risk Management Principles in Homeland Security.”

Robert Jamison, DHS Undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which oversees the Department’s Office of Risk Management and Analysis (RMA), described the vision thing as follows:

Establish and institutionalize an integrated risk management framework. This framework will consist of the doctrine, principles, processes, guidance, and information flows that will enable risk-informed and cost-effective decision making within components and at the DHS headquarters level. A properly executed risk management framework effectively serves as a force multiplier, as it enables better alignment of security priorities and resources to needs.

Conduct strategic, integrated risk analysis. We must be informed, at the strategic level, by an integrated departmental risk assessment. The integrated risk assessment should leverage the various risk analyses being conducted within and outside the Department.

The RMA, which was established under Section 872 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, manages the Risk Steering Committee that U/S Jamison chairs and that is the principle vehicle for knitting together the component agencies’ efforts to define, manage, and reduce risk in their respective domains.

The RMA also is charged with developing a standard risk lexicon, which I presume has to do with unifying the cacophony of terms used to describe the vagaries of risk across the Department. No easy task. As part of this effort to rationalize the risk paradigm that DHS runs, RMA is developing the Risk Assessment Process for Informed Decision-Making, or “RAPID.” (Hey, they got SAFETY Act and PATRIOT Act to serve as acronyms.) Furthermore, RMA is in the process of developing a strategic regional risk assessment process/tool and a risk communications strategy. Perhaps the latter will evolve the color-coded medium currently in use.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader RK for his email correcting this post. It had previously cited the creation of RMA under a section of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but implied that RMA was formed around the time of the Act. Rather, the Secretary used a section of the Act to create the Office of Risk Management and Analysis in 2007.

June 26, 2008

Technology Task Force Presents 7 Recommendations to Chertoff

Filed under: Business of HLS,Organizational Issues,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 26, 2008

I’ve covered the work of the DHS Essential Technology Task Force here and here, and yesterday the ETTF reported out its final recommendations to the Secretary during the public portion of the HSAC’s bi-annual meeting with the Secretary.

The Secretary of Homeland Security tasked the Homeland Security Advisory Council with establishing an Essential Technologies Task Force (ETTF) to address the following questions:

• What are the legal, financial and operational issues that must be understood to assess whether and to what extent DHS should acquire various types of technology on a service or lease basis, rather than as a purchase/capital investment?

• What types of technology might be considered as candidates for different approaches?

• What types of financial arrangements would the private sector likely be prepared to accept, and how should DHS assess the pros and cons of each?

IBM’s Scott Gould and I were among those invited to testify before the Task Force. On the two occasions that I presented to them, my testimony focused on key attributes of successful technology acquisition from other parts of the USG, as well as opportunities for DHS to collaborate with international partners for joint technology development, the models for which reside at the EU, NATO, and elsewhere.

Both Scott and I made the point that without an overarching framework to guide a Department-wide acquisition strategy, little progress is likely. Scott actually recommended using the Global Movement Management framework as a model, which the Task Force chose to include as a specific example in their final report. That report described in detail the following seven top-level recommendations:

1. Build a high performance acquisitions and program management function implemented by capable staff.

2. Adopt a rigorous Department-wide requirements management process.

3. Develop a Department-wide acquisition strategy with a clear implementation plan.

4. Improve engagement with the private sector.

5. Manage innovation though a variety of approaches.

6. Use the regulatory and standards setting role of DHS to generate economies of scale across stakeholder domains.

7. Continue to advocate for the reduction of homeland security Congressional committees.

The Secretary stayed only to delivery praise to the Task Force and swear in three new members to the HSAC. He left before ETTF chairman George Vradenburg delivered his presentation on the Task Force’s findings. This is unfortunate. The ETTF is another example of how the HSAC is becoming a more focused and more useful advisory entity to the DHS leadership. Kudos to Chuck Adams and Amanda Rittenhouse for their tireless efforts over the last several months in leading the Task Force’s staff team.

Before he left, Chertoff charged the HSAC membership with one more task: “What are the ten tasks for the next Administration to take up and accomplish over its first year or two?”

It seemed odd to charge this group with something so trite. However, he explained, rightly, that it is important that efforts be made to preserve the institutional knowledge of the Department into and through its first ever Presidential transition.

I’d like to know what you think should make the top ten list. Comment below.

June 25, 2008

DHS Policy Office ’09 Funding Suffers, Strategy Document in Question

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 25, 2008

The Senate’s version of the FY 2009 spending bill to fund DHS actually provides less funding for the Office of Policy than the Bush Administration requested. The Policy Office was created after Secretary Chertoff came to office as part of his Second Stage Review. Most everyone welcomed the move as only overdue. Today, the Policy Office is a cross-cutting entity operating out of the Office of the Secretary with portfolios such as Policy Development, Strategic Plans, International Relations, Immigration Statistics, and Private Sector engagement, and it houses the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

It is a critical Department function that may someday serve as vital a role as its counterpart at the Defense Department. Like DoD, DHS now creates a strategic assessment of its policies, plans, priorities, and goals for a four-year window. The Pentagon calls it the Quadrennial Defense Review, and DHS is now at work on its first ever Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. The QDR is an influential document that benefits from senior leadership buy-in, Congressional support, and sweat from across the Defense community. The QHSR is off to a rough start.

The FY08 appropriations act funded the QHSR with only $1,500,000. (An additional $150,000 was assigned to the CFO’s office to support the QHSR.) Nearly all of that funding is being spent on contractor support to help the Office of Policy write the QHSR. The current Senate FY09 bill takes DHS to task for this:

The [Senate] Committee [on Appropriations] is concerned that almost the entire request of $1,500,000 for the QHSR is for contractor support even though many of the functions intended for contractors are inherently governmental. Contracting out the job of long-term planning and goal setting undermines the mission and purpose of this Department. Requiring agencies to work together to develop long-term goals was one of the intended benefits of the creation of the Department. Therefore, funds for contractor support shall only be used for administrative and clerical tasks in support of the QHSR.

The Committee is right to be concerned about outsourcing such a critical initiative as the first QHSR. However, blame can be shared. The Defense Department QDR is funded at nearly 10x the amount given to DHS, and the Pentagon leadership is heavily invested in supporting the QDR drafting process with staff from across the services and the civilian leadership. The DHS Policy Office is being given a pittance to perform this QHSR the right way, but the Policy Office is also not supported by the DHS leadership sufficiently to gain the DHS-wide support necessary to staff it up.

In my meetings with Chertoff this year I’ve asked about the QHSR nearly every time. His response indicates a downplayed priority. It could be because the QHSR will benefit the next Administration more than the current one, but the process needs to be institutionalized and supported for the long-term success of the Department. Let’s hope that over the course of the appropriations negotiations we see an elevated profile – as well as higher funding – for the QHSR initiative.

June 24, 2008

DHS Approps Chair Cites 5 Priority Areas

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 24, 2008

David Price, Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, yesterday detailed five areas for DHS to focus its efforts. The presentation offered a glimpse into the thinking of the man overseeing the House’s spending plans for DHS. Today the full House Appropriations Committee marks up the $40 billion draft bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security in FY 2009. During Monday’s event, hosted by the Center for American Progress, Price offered criticism and counsel in the following areas:

Immigration: The next administration must make criminal illegal immigrants ICE’s top priority. The draft 2009 appropriations bill supports this, and would provide resources for a current ICE plan to identify such illegal immigrants in federal, state and local prisons and deport them after they have served their sentences. The legislation also devotes attention to the northern border, which Price called “more significant as a potential entry point for terrorists than the southern border.”

Price also calls for comprehensive immigration reform, saying the current administration seemed to be on that track, but “now seems to have turned 180 degrees toward an enforcement-only approach.” Rob Margetta at CQ Homeland Security also notes that it was Congress that failed to pass the reform bill.

Price recommended that if the next Administration makes immigration reform a higher priority and pursues it more effectively, such reform will “strengthen our economy, reaffirm the rule of law, and enhance homeland security, allowing DHS to focus more effectively on that small percentage of illegal immigrants that has the capacity and the intent to commit crimes and do us harm.”

Disaster and Emergency Response: FEMA’s capability to deal with large-scale natural disasters suffered when it was absorbed into DHS, and its relationships with state and local responders were better before Sept. 11, 2001, Price said. Price implied that the agency should be elevated to cabinet status or broken out of DHS in the next administration.

Price also asserted that FEMA shouldn’t be in the business of providing emergency housing in the Gulf Coast, but that the Department of Housing and Urban Development should be. Although the process has been occurring, it has been slow and lacking in direction, he said.

Management: DHS leadership needs to strike a better balance between providing overall policy guidance and leaving departmental components free to do the fine tuning, between nurturing the new homeland security missions of component agencies and maintaining their historic mission capabilities.

Price specifically called out the need to improve the Department’s financial system management, procurement management, and oversight. Price also noted the difficulty in staffing up faced by new agencies at DHS, as well as the heavy dependence on contractors for critical management functions. Price stated that 72 percent of the career executives at DHS left the Department between 2003 and 2007, compared to an average of 46 percent among all other Federal Departments.

72%? Seems hard to believe, but it may be the case given the morale challenges there. This is the management train wreck that could hobble any good idea in the Department.

Technology and Privacy: Price said DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate has made progress in aligning its work better with the needs of component agencies, but added that the department must be cautious of rushing into technology investments without considering privacy implications or real-world effectiveness.

He cited Secure Flight, which was delayed for years, as well as CBP’s SBINet as examples of programs where attention to privacy protections and technology viability was insufficient at the outset.

“New technologies are not something we should naively bank on,” Price said. “Too often they just don’t work as advertised, as we have seen at our southern border, or they may be premature or have costs that exceed their benefits.”

Grants and Risk Analysis: Price noted that most of the Department’s grants are allocated using risk formulas, but that DHS “has struggled both to develop credible formulas with measurable components and to apply the formulas objectively and consistently.” This has prevented Congress from measuring how or whether grant investments are reducing risk.

This leads to a dual challenge, Price explained: spending is high for daunting threats deemed so perilous that we cannot afford not to spend more money; while at other times, funding is inadequately low because it is difficult to know that the funding is having the desired affect.

Price believes that first responder grants fall into the second category, but that robust investments must continue in first responder equipment and training, port security upgrades, and transit security precautions. However, Price is not satisfied that these grants are being made wisely. The fiscal 2008 appropriations bill commissioned the National Academies of Science with assessing DHS’s risk assessment system, and the next secretary should use that data to guide investments, he said. Both the House and the Senate bills for FY09 DHS spending double the president’s request for first responder grants.

June 20, 2008

Senate Moves on DHS Funding for FY09

Filed under: Budgets and Spending — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 20, 2008

Following the House spending measure marked up last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved $41.3 billion in Homeland Security spending. The Senate version provides DHS $40.1 billion in discretionary spending and $1.2 billion in mandatory funds, amounting to an increase of $2.5 billion more than the Bush requested. This is an initial read-out on the bill; more to come later.

The Senate bill also allocates $318.5 million for cyber security, which represents $108 million more than fiscal 2008 and about $25 million more than White House requested.

The Coast Guard would receive $9.2 billion, $145 million more than the president’s request.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would receive $7.4 billion under the Senate Appropriations proposal, about $2.1 billion more than Bush requested.

In addition to increasing funds for first responders, the bill appropriates $11.2 billion, about $381 million more than in fiscal 2008 and $254 million more than the president’s budget request, to Customs and Border Protection. Specific line items include:
• $442.4 million to hire an additional 2,200 Border Patrol agents, bringing the total to 20,019 by the end of fiscal 2009.
• $775 million for border fencing, infrastructure and related technology.
• $403.2 million for construction of Border Patrol facilities and repairs to land border ports of entry.
• $528 million for aerial and marine operations and procurement.

CQ Homeland Security notes that Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she would probably introduce an amendment to the bill requiring DHS verify both the arrival and departure of foreign visitors under the Visa Waiver Program.

June 18, 2008

A Future for Nuclear National Labs in Homeland Security?

Filed under: Cybersecurity,Organizational Issues,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 18, 2008

The Stimson Center’s Cooperative Nonproliferation Program (CNP) announced the launch of a new task force charged with leveraging national laboratory S&T for the 21st century security environment. Fran Townsend, President Bush’s former Homeland Security Advisor, and Lieutenant General Donald Kerrick, former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Clinton, will serve as co-chairs. The bipartisan group, composed of national security experts, scientists, and businesspeople, will convene for the first time on June 27th, 2008 in Washington, DC.

The Task Force is led by The Stimson Center’s Libby Turpen, with clear involvement of Ellen Laipson, who was vice-chair at the National Intelligence Council the first time I met her. She was appointed president and CEO at Stimson in 2002. Libby used to be on the Hill before she joined Stimson in 2001 to establish the Security for a New Century congressional study group.

I have the privilege of serving on this taskforce over the next several months. While the proceedings of this Task Force will be private until reporting out to sponsors at DOE and the Lounsbery Foundation, I’ll do my best to keep readers informed of the work. After our first meeting is on the 27th, we’ll be heading out to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California, to visit with the people at Los Alamos National Lab, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia.

The Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) ongoing transformation from a Cold War complex to a modern national security enterprise is faced with the distinct challenge of repurposing to some extent the overall mission and focus of the nuclear labs, namely Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore.

The Task Force’s key objective is to develop a strategy to ensure retention of nuclear weapons related core competencies at the national labs while better leveraging their scientific and technological capabilities to serve a broader set of 21st-century national and homeland security needs. This initiative should create a comprehensive R&D strategy to serve this objective. One can anticipate a likely slate of issues to include cybersecurity, climate change modeling, and possibly energy security issues.

June 15, 2008

House Moves on DHS Funding for FY09

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Events — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 15, 2008

Last week, Chris Strohm at GovExec reported in a story that House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. David Price, intends to give priority to cybersecurity in homeland spending bill.

DHS has requested nearly $300 million for its role in the Cyber Security Initiative. Price has said that his panel’s legislation is on pace to be the first spending bill to move through the House. He believes most spending bills will make it through the House before the August recess but then face “formidable” obstacles in the Senate and with the White House. More likely than not, he said, Congress will have to pass an omnibus appropriations bill before a new administration comes into office.

By last Wednesday, Price’s Committee had concluded its mark-up of the DHS appropriations bill. As chairman, Price described the thrust behind his Committee’s treatment of the President’s budget request as corrective.

“The first objective guiding the allocation of funding in the bill was to correct known funding deficiencies and shortfalls, which were substantial,” according to his statement

The Subcommittee mark reverses the President’s proposal to cut funding for first responder and port grant programs by $2 billion, or 49 percent. The mark also plusses up funding for border agents, explosive detection, and the following changes:

• $950 million for State Homeland Security grants, the same as last year, and $750 million above the President’s proposed funding level

• $850 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants, $30 million above last year and $25 million more than the President requested

• $400 million for Transit Security Grants, the same as last year, and $225 million more than the President’s budget request

• $800 million for Fire Grants, $50 million more than last year, and $500 million more than what the President proposed

• $315 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants, $15 million more than last year, and a $115 million increase above the President’s budget

• $400 million for port security grants, the same as last year, and $190 million above the President’s budget

The President proposed no dedicated funding for other programs of interest to the Committee, which restored funding for the following

• $50 million for the Metropolitan Medical Response System

• $50 million for REAL ID grants

• $50 million for Interoperable Communications Grants

• $35 million for Emergency Operations Centers

• $60 million for Operation Stonegarden

The Subcommittee mark also reduces or funding in some areas. For example, funding for an air exit component of US-VISIT will wait until completion of at least two pilot tests, one involving the Department’s current proposal, which would rely on the airlines to collect biometric data at check-in counters, and a second pilot in which DHS would be responsible for capturing exit biometrics at departure gates.

The bill also withholds $1.4 billion for the Secure Border Initiative, the Deepwater program and the Cyber Security initiative until further planning for these programs is in place.

Rep. David Price (D – NC), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, will speak on June 23 at the Center for American Progress about the DHS appropriations bill. At the event, Price is also expected to comment on steps the next administration “should take to restructure and reform” DHS, according to the invitation. Please see details below about the event on the 23rd.

Chairman Price will be introduced by Scott Lilly, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress Action Fund.

When: Monday, June 23, 2008, 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Cost: Admission is free.

Where: Center for American Progress Action Fund
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

Map & Directions
Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center

RSVP for this Event here.

June 13, 2008

Test for Technorati

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 13, 2008

Technorati Profile

June 10, 2008

Homeland Security & Technology Panel Event

Filed under: Business of HLS,Congress and HLS,International HLS,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 10, 2008

Yesterday IBM and GW’s Homeland Security Policy Institute convened a panel event and discussion entitled “Technology in Homeland Security: A Double-Edged Sword.”

Brad Buswell, Deputy Under Secretary for S&T at DHS kicked it off with a presentation on how his directorate views the technology landscape, with a focus on not falling victim to the “failure of imagination” the 9/11 Commission blamed as one of the reasons the 9/1 attacks were not disrupted. This notion caused a number of us to ask about the practical limits on such an approach to technology. Specifically, how to insure against spending money on an “anything’s possible” mentality that invests in countermeasures against any threat imaginable? Buswell explained that White House guidance, Department level plans, and input from the customer community (the component agencies at DHS) helps bound the imagination.

Jan Lane stepped in for Frank Cilluffo to moderate Busewell’s presentation and Q&A and I joined the panel as moderator and occasional referee. Frank was able to join toward the latter half and weigh in on the issues.

Our panelists provided a diverse treatment of this challenging topic. Parney Albright, former DHS Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology, and now Managing Director & Vice Chairman at Civitas, weighed in on the challenges confronting the innovators on the business side of the equation who seek to take pre-prototype solutions to market and how that shapes the spectrum of technology solutions deployed at the state level.

Christian Beckner, Professional Staff Member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, explained some of the rough patches still preventing a more accelerated trend in technology as a homeland security advantage, as well as indications of areas of interest from an oversight perspective. (Note that Christian spoke not on behalf of the Committee.)

Greg Nojeim, Director of the Project on Freedom, Security, and Technology at the Center for Democracy and Technology offered insightful warnings about the unintended consequences of technology when it is not developed or deployed with privacy protections at the initial stages. He cited such things as the PATRIOT Act and government wire-tapping outside of FISA.

Langdon Greenhalgh, CEO of Global Emergency Group, provided the needed perspective of the international emergency response community, which depends to an ever increasing degree on technology as an enabler.

I’m working with Jan and Frank to generate an after action report that condenses the highlights of the discussion. Look for it to be available here and possibly on the HSPI website.

Over 70 participants attended representing the following, among other, organizations:

• DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council
• Homeland Security Institute (DHS S&T)
• U.S. Secret Service
• Department of State
• Department of Energy
• The White House
• Immigration and Customs Enforcement
• Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee
• Government Accountability Office
• European Union
• Bingham Consulting Group
• Northrop Grumman Corporation
• Lockheed Martin
• Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)
• Trade Security Institute
• Dutko Worldwide
• The Washington Times
• USA Today
• Swedish Institute of International Affairs
• Embassy of El Salvador
• Embassy of Switzerland
• International Association of Fire Chiefs
• Embassy of Australia
• International Development Bank
• Latin America Working Group
• Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)
• Partnership for Public Service
• Center for Democracy and Technology
• MSCL, LLC International Maritime Consultancy
• Oxford Analytica, Inc.
• American Red Cross
• Institute for Regulatory Science

June 6, 2008

New White House Directive on Biometric Data Issued

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Privacy and Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 6, 2008

Yesterday the White House issued a new directive intended to coordinate efforts by Federal departments and agencies to collect, store, use, analyze, and share biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of “known and suspected terrorists.”

The joint national security and homeland security directive, known as NSPD-59/HSPD-24, seeks to enhance government capabilities in managing biometric data about suspected terrorists. This directive refers to a “Federal framework for applying existing and emerging biometric technologies to the collection, storage, use, analysis, and sharing of data in identification and screening processes.” The framework is intended to better structure the various federal efforts focused on biometric identification for national security purposes as part of “a layered approach to identification and screening of individuals.”

This dovetails well with the post earlier this week about the discussion with Patty Cogswell of the DHS Screening Coordiantion Office. Note also the potential relationship between this directive and efforts underway at the FBI (Next Generation Identification) and at DHS (Biometric Storage System).

The following orders, directives, and strategy documents bear on this directive’s implementation:
• Executive Order 12881 (Establishment of the National Science and Technology Council);
• Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 (HSPD 6) (Integration and Use of Screening Information to Protect Against Terrorism);
• Executive Order 13354 (National Counterterrorism Center);
• Homeland Security Presidential Directive 11 (HSPD 11) (Comprehensive Terrorist Related Screening Procedures);
• Executive Order 13388 (Further Strengthening the Sharing of Terrorism Information to Protect Americans);
• National Security Presidential Directive 46/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 15 (NSPD-46/HSPD-15) (U.S. Policy and Strategy in the War on Terror);
• 2005 Information Sharing Guidelines;
• 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism;
• 2006 National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel;
• 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security;
• 2007 National Strategy for Information Sharing; and
• 2008 United States Intelligence Community Information Sharing Strategy.

The main thrust behind HSPD-24 is an intention to make all biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of threatening persons available to all agencies. Sounds sweeping. The HSPD does make explicit that the scope here is to enable information sharing across the Executive branch, not to collect more biometric data. That the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism is the primary person responsible for “interagency policy coordination on all aspects of this directive,” this may not mean much. That position has been vacant since last year.

UPDATE: The day before I wrote this post the President named Fran Townsend’s successor. Thomas P. Bossert is the new Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. This is a promotion from his job as Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Preparedness Policy. Bossert also served as Director of Infrastructure Policy on the HSC staff and, before that, as Deputy Director in the Office of Legislative Affairs at DHS’s former Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.

June 5, 2008

Interview w/ DHS Screening Coordination Office at S&T Conference

Filed under: Organizational Issues,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 5, 2008

The DHS S&T Stakeholders conference taking place this week is a sprawling array of panels, booths, displays, and coffee breaks. Nearly one hundred speakers by my estimate, and perhaps one thousand attendees. The event is sometimes organized along the paradigm of bugs, bombs, borders, bodies (people), business, and buildings.

Today’s panel discussion under the Bodies channel was chaired by Sharla Rausch, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Human Factors Division. Her panelists represented TSA and the Screening Coordination Office. I interviewed the Associate Director of the SCO, Patricia Cogswell, after the panel adjourned and asked about what’s on the horizon for the SCO because it’s a unique kind of office with a strategic, cross-DHS mission.

First, a bit about the SCO. It was born in the FY06 President’s Budget Request as part of a program consolidation effort, and was followed up in FY07 as part of a program coordination effort. Note the difference. Rather than have the SCO absorb programs, it now coordinates them. Today, the SCO is part of the DHS Policy Directorate.

Its director, Kathy Kraninger, is technically an Assistant Secretary of Policy. Of the SCO’s two Associate Directors, Patty Cogswell mainly handles the SCO’s Credentialing Framework, Immigration Reform/USCIS Transformation, FBI Name Checks/IAFIS, the Information Sharing Council, and matters dealing with biometrics and DHS’s IDENT program. I understand the lead-up to yesterday’s announcement of the Pre-Travel Authorization Program for Visa Waiver travelers has kept the SCO rather busy.

Screening is actually a rather specific term for DHS with a discrete definition. A DHS briefing obtained by HLSWatch defines screening as “the process of identifying, enrolling, and checking applicants to determine their eligibility for entry into the US, or access to privileged travel and transportation programs.” Given the added scope of such things as USCIS benefits, the “access” scope might be broadened to include immigration benefits.

To give you an idea of the SCO’s purview, consider these numbers:

DHS component agencies:

    Process over 1.2 million travelers at the border, including over 630,000 aliens,
    Screen over 1.8 million domestic air travelers,
    Process 30,000 applicants for immigration benefits, and
    Conduct 135,000 national security background checks relating to immigration benefits.
    Credentials 750,000 workers requiring unescorted access to facilities and maritime vessels (through the TWIC program)

Today the SCO also serves as something of a budgetary pilot program itself by planning its requirements and budget needs through 2014. A Department-wide 5-year budget planning process is likely a far way off still. In its coordinating, its clear from Patty’s portfolio alone that this relatively small office has its hands in almost everything. We discussed today the ways in which SCO supports the CIO, CFO, and USCIS.

Other issues on the horizon surely include the forthcoming presidential transition. The SCO, like other offices (DNDO, ONA, Operations Coordination) will face a change in the presidency that could bring a change in priorities that’ll demote or devolve such things as screening coordination. Were that to be proposed, it would seem the SCO could count on champions from across the agency to speak to its value and utility.

Here’s another thought on that: If the budget is looking five years out, then it ought to be reflective of the Quadrennial (four-year) Homeland Security Review. Since the next Administration will inherit a draft QHSR, among other things, it would make sense for that document to be explicit about this priority.

June 4, 2008

Technology in Homeland Security: A Double-Edged Sword

Filed under: Events,Strategy,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 4, 2008

IBM’s Global Leadership Initiative and GWU’s Homeland Security Policy Institute are teaming up for an event next Monday, June 9th. The panel kicks off with Bradley Buswell, DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Science & Technology, followed by a unique panel of experts:

Parney Albright
Former DHS Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology
Currently Managing Director & Vice Chairman of Civitas, LLC

Christian Beckner
Professional Staff Member
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

Greg Nojeim
Director, Project on Freedom, Security and Technology, Center for Democracy and Technology

Langdon Greenhalgh
Global Emergency Group

The panel and discussion will examine the critical role of technology in homeland security, both as an opportunity and as a challenge. For many, technology holds forth the promise of solving a host of our greatest homeland security and counterterrorism challenges: providing the right information to the right people at the right time. For others, technology poses an abiding challenge: projects fall short of promises, privacy protections can become subjugated, and men and women on the front lines are often frustrated by new technologies that complicate their jobs before making them easier. The speakers will examine successes and failures from both the public and private sectors to draw lessons that guide the way for future investments and innovation.

I’ll moderate the discussion with Frank Cilluffo, Director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute. I hope to see some of our readers there.

RSVP to hspi1@gwumc.edu or at (202) 994-4787 by Friday, June 6th, 2008. Details below:

Monday, June 9, 2008
10:00 am – 1:15 pm
The George Washington University
Marvin Center, 800 21st Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
Third Floor
Continental Ballroom

June 3, 2008

Innovation Competition Focuses on HLS Solutions

Filed under: Business of HLS,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 3, 2008

Readers may recall the Global Security Challenge as the technology and innovation competition started a couple years ago to focus on homeland security and CT capabilities. This year, co-president of the GSC, Simon Schneider, wrote me to explain that they’ve expanded the competition in two important ways. First, they are inviting early-stage innovators to compete with ideas, not necessarily prototypes or finished products. Second, they’ve created a new category for the best solution for protecting crowded places – an area that is of particular concern to the UK Government.

This year’s Best Security Idea award is aimed to support researchers, infant companies with no revenue yet, and any other inventors who just have an idea for a security solution. Judges are seeking submissions with compelling “disruptive potential,” rather than product maturity. The prize for this competition category is mentorship by Siemens Venture Capital and the opportunity to present the winning idea on stage of the GSC Grand Final in London.

Secure Futures, the GSC’s partner company and a UK-based national security “innovation firm,” will provide financial and advisory support for a new award category in the Global Security Challenge competition to reward the most innovative ideas for securing crowded areas. Winning solutions, according to GSC, may include innovative video surveillance solutions, access control technologies, or solutions for better communicating with crowds. This award is a subcategory of the Best Security Idea Award with a focus on contributing to public safety. The winner receives $10,000. Since this is held in London, I’d recommend asking for that in pounds or euros.

The big fish at the GSC is of course the $500,000 grant sponsored by the Technical Support Working Group, an interagency technology development entity led by DOD, DHS, and State. This prize is open to competition from any security technology startups with less than $5 million in revenues in 2007 and a working prototype. All finalists receive mentorship by leading VC firms.

June 2, 2008

Major DHS S&T Conference Starts Today

Filed under: DHS News,Events,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 2, 2008

This week I’ll be attending the DHS S&T Stakeholders Conference. Beginning this morning with a series of training sessions and running through Thursday, the conference is one of the largest DHS events, if not the longest. This is the annual opportunity for DHS to present the S&T Directorate’s organization, vision, and key initiatives, gain input from S&T stakeholders at all levels (Federal, State, and Local), industry, academia, and the news media, explain business opportunities in S&T, and describe new and emerging technologies.

Today includes the Pre-Conference Training Workshop. Sessions are led mostly by DHS, and some private sector, experts about such topics as Doing Business with the S&T Directorate, Science & Technology for First Responders, IEDs, and Crisis Communication.

I’ll blog about the sessions I can attend, which likely will be “Human Factors Division: Social-Behavioral Threat Analysis,” DHS S&T “Special Programs Division,” and “Next Generation Tech Commercialization: IP Portals, Tech Scouting, Alumni Funds, and Clusters.” The entire agenda is available here. Let me know if there is a specific panel you’re interested in.

Tomorrow the official kick-off includes Jay Cohen, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, and Homeland Security Secretary Michale Chertoff. Two panels I’ll cover tomorrow are:

S&T Partners: Capitol Hill
Mr. Brad Buswell, Deputy Under Secretary for Science & Technology, S&T Directorate, DHS
Mr. James McGee, Professional Staff Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate
Mr. Keyur Parikh, Professional Staff Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate
Ms. Ellen Carlin, Professional Staff Member, Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives
Ms. Rachel A. Jagoda Brunette, Professional Staff Member, Committee on Science & Technology, U.S. House of Representatives
Mr. Tind Shepper Ryen, Professional Staff Member, Committee on Science & Technology, U.S. House of Representatives
Dr. Christopher Beck, Professional Staff, Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, Science & Technology, House Committee on Homeland Security

S&T Partners: International Partners
Ms. Lil Ramirez, Director of International Relations, S&T Directorate, DHS
Professor Israel L. Barak, Chief Scientist & Director. Bureau of the Chief Scientist, Ministry of Public Security, Israel
Mrs. Marcela Celorio, Deputy Director for North American Affairs, Centro de Información de Seguridad Nacional, Mexico
Dr Richard Davis, Head National Security Science & Technology Unit, Prime Minister & Cabinet Department, Australia
Dr. Michel Israël, Counselor for Science and Technology, Embassy of the French Republic
Dr. Stefan Mengel, Deputy Director for Security Research, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Federal Republic of Germany
Mr. Yongkyun Kim, National Emergency Management Agency, Republic of Korea