Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 22, 2013

NPR picks up HLSWatch topic

Filed under: DHS News — by Philip J. Palin on July 22, 2013

Monday’s All Things Considered featured an interview with Christian Beckner on the same topic as Christian’s most recent HLSWatch post. You can hear the interview and related news reporting at: Lack of Leaders Puts Strain on Homeland Security Department.

July 11, 2013

DHS Vacancies Watch

Filed under: Congress and HLS,DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Christian Beckner on July 11, 2013

We are now more than halfway through 2013, and the number of vacancies of leadership positions at DHS continues to increase.  Until two weeks ago, the President had not yet nominated a single official to serve at DHS in a Senate-confirmed position, and had only made one senior-level appointment to a position that does not require Senate confirmation – the selection of Julia Pierson to serve as the new director of the Secret Service.

Having a certain level of senior-level vacancies in a Cabinet department is normal, given the typical churn of confirmed and appointed officials.  But if enough positions are open for a long enough period of time, it can lead to significant operational and management risks to that Department, and also diminishes its accountability to the U.S. Congress.

I am afraid that the Department of Homeland Security is now at the point where it is facing these risks.   As I note below, there are currently no less than 14 senior-level vacancies at DHS.  Given this, I think that it is critical that the White House prioritize nominations and appointment for the key positions listed below, and that when nominations are made, that the Senate act quickly on nominations for qualified candidates.

Below is a list of the Senate-confirmed positions that are currently unfilled (or will soon be unfilled) at DHS:

1. Deputy Secretary: Former Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute stepped down in May 2013.  Under Secretary for NPPD Rand Beers is currently serving as Acting Deputy Secretary.  On June 27th, the White House nominated current USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to become the new Deputy Secretary, and his nomination is pending with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  His confirmation would open up a new vacancy at USCIS.

2. Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis: Former Under Secretary for I&A Caryn Wagner left DHS in December 2012.  Bill Tarry has been serving as Acting Under Secretary since that date, but his acting role will hit the 210 day limit under the Vacancies Act in the next ten days.  No nomination has been announced yet.

3. General Counsel:  Former GC Ivan Fong left DHS in September 2012.  Former Counselor to Secretary Napolitano John Sandweg was named as Acting General Counsel, but is now listed on the DHS website as Principal Deputy General Counsel, presumably because he had been in the acting position for longer than the 210 days allowed by the Vacancies Act.

4. Inspector General:  Former IG Richard Skinner left DHS in January 2011.  The President nominated Roslyn Mazer to serve in the position in July 2011, and her nomination was withdrawn in June 2012 following opposition by members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  It’s now been over a year since her nomination was withdrawn, and no new nominee has been put forward.  Charles Edwards served as Acting IG until hitting the Vacancies Act limit and is currently listed as the Deputy IG on the OIG’s website.  He is currently being accused of a range of abuses of his position in a letter sent last month by Sen. McCaskill and Sen. Ron Johnson.

5. Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection: Alan Bersin was nominated as CBP Commissioner in September 2009, and in March 2010 was put in the position via a recess appointment by the President.  The Senate Finance Committee held a nomination hearing for Bersin in May 2010, but his nomination was never reported out of the Finance Committee, and his recess appointment expired at the end of 2011.   Since that time, former Border Patrol chief David Aguilar and Deputy Commissioner Thomas Winkowski have served as Acting Commissioner, but no new nominee has been put forward.

6. Director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement:  ICE Director John Morton announced his intent to resign in June and is departing at the end of July.

In addition to these six Senate-confirmed position, there are also senior leadership vacancies in at least eight other senior positions that do not require Senate confirmation, including Chief Privacy Officer, Officer for Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Health Affairs, Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, Chief Information Officer, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Legislative Affairs, and Executive Secretary.

February 13, 2012

First blush look at the DHS budget

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,DHS News — by Philip J. Palin on February 13, 2012

An online version of the full 200 plus page President’s budget proposal is available from the White House.  The Department of Homeland Security budget proposal starts on page 117.   The total DHS budget amount is nearly the same as last year.  There are, however, some important internal shifts.

Homeland Security Funding Highlights per White House and OMB (direct quote from budget proposal):

Provides $39.5 billion,a decrease of 0.5 percent or $191 million,below the 2012 enacted level.The Budget continues strong investments in core homeland security functions such as the prevention of terrorist attacks,border security,aviation security, disaster preparedness, and cybersecurity.

Savings are created through cuts in administrative costs and the elimination of duplicative programs.The Budget also supports disaster relief through a cap adjustment, consistent with the Budget Control Act.

Makes $853 million in cuts to administrative categories including travel, overtime,and fleet management,and eliminates duplicative and low-priority programs.

Maintains frontline homeland security operations, supporting 21,186 Customs and Border Protection officers and 21,370 Border Patrol agents to facilitate legitimate travel and the movement of goods while strengthening border security.

Supports the recovery of States and communities that have been devastated by disasters and emergencies with $6.1 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which includes $5.5 billion in disaster relief cap adjustments pursuant to the designation established in the Budget Control Act.

Strengthens Government cybersecurity by providing $769 million to improve security of Federal civilian information technology networks while enhancing outreach to State and local governments and critical infrastructure sectors.

Promotes innovation and economic growth by providing $650 million to fund important research and development advances in cybersecurity, explosives detection, and chemical/biological response systems.

Eliminates duplicative, stand-alone FEMA grant programs, consolidating them into a new National Preparedness Grant Program to better develop, sustain,and leverage core capabilities across the country while supporting national preparedness and response.

Aligns resources with risk in immigration detention by focusing on criminal aliens, repeat immigration law violators, recent border entrants, immigration fugitives,and other priorities,and expanding resources for electronic monitoring and intensive supervision.

Initiates acquisition of a new polar ice breaker and continues recapitalization of Coast Guard assets, including $658 million to construct the sixth National Security Cutter.

End of quote


Earlier today, practically simultaneous with the release of the President’s budget,  DHS distributed to many previous grant recipients guidance that will administratively advance the consolidation of FEMA grants referenced above.

January 28, 2011

Napolitano says we will have the resources. Are we ready for the responsibility?

Filed under: DHS News — by Philip J. Palin on January 28, 2011

Yesterday Secretary Napolitano gave a “State of Homeland Security” address at The George Washington University.  Her prepared remarks are available from the DHS website.

I expect most news stories have focused on the replacement of the color coded alert system.  Good riddance.  Glad it is being replaced.

More substantively there is quite a bit of language — and amplified attention — to the role of the “whole of the nation” or “whole community” in preparedness, protection, response, and recovery.  Some excerpts:

Despite our title, the Department of Homeland Security does not possess sole responsibility for securing the homeland within the Federal government…

But the homeland security enterprise extends far beyond DHS and the federal government. As I said, it requires not just a “whole of government,” but a “whole of nation” approach. In some respects, local law enforcement, community groups, citizens, and the private sector play as much of a role in homeland security as the federal government. That is why I like to say that “homeland security starts with hometown security…”

A study just last year study found that, between 1999 and 2009, more than 80 percent of foiled terrorist plots in the United States were thwarted because of observations from law enforcement or the general public…

And so, every day at DHS, we are doing everything we can to get more information, more tools, and more resources out of Washington, DC, and into the hands of the men and women on the front lines.

Which the Secretary strongly suggests is where each of us happen to be.

Sort of related… Wednesday afternoon during rush hour the Washington DC area was hit hard by quickly falling ice and snow.   It turned into a nightmare commute home for many.  (See Washington Post story)   Evidently tens-of-thousands were surprised.  This is despite the metro area’s horrendous traffic in the best weather, despite last year’s snowpocalypse, despite the breathless warning of weather people all day long, and despite the real surprise of significant snow on Wednesday morning.

Last night we heard snow-thunder across the National Capital Region.  In a more superstitious era someone might have suggested the storm god was slapping his forehead in frustration with how so many could miss all the warnings.

The Secretary is right to push information, tools, and resources out of Washington.  For this to make a difference the rest of us will have to accept our responsibility to pay attention, plan ahead, and practice good judgment.

January 1, 2010

Homeland Security: What’s In and Out for 2010

Filed under: Border Security,DHS News,Events,General Homeland Security,International HLS — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on January 1, 2010

Happy New Year or Happy 20-10 if you prefer.  I would say welcome to a new decade but having read that there is a debate going on on whether the decade ended yesterday or a year from yesterday, I’ll leave that one alone.

It has been a busy year on the homeland security front, starting with a new President and Secretary of Homeland Security and ending with lots of politics surrounding a Christmas Day thwarted terrorism attack.   For a  quick view of the top stories of 2009 and what to expect in 2010, here is an overview of what we can expect to be in and out on the homeland security front for 2010.



Across the Spectrum, Praise for DHS Nominee Napolitano

Republican Criticism of Secretary Napolitano

Subpoenas for White House Gatecrashers Salahis To Appear on January 20th in Congress

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab Prosecution in Federal Court


Full-Body Scanners

System Failure (Again) of Intelligence Information Sharing

Connecting the Dots



Border Enforcement Only

Comprehensive Immigration Reform




Next Pandemic?

Hold on Appointees at DHS

New TSA Administrator, Other Appointments

Homeland Security- Bipartisan Kinda?

The Blame Game

August 3, 2009

A Web 2.0 Dialogue on QHSR

Filed under: DHS News,Events,General Homeland Security — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on August 3, 2009

In furtherance of the Obama Administration’s tech-saavy, public-friendly approach to governance, DHS unveiled its “National Dialogue on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review” today at http://www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org.   DHS is inviting the public to give its opinions between today and August 9 on proposals made by QHSR study groups in four different study areas and two process study areas, including:

Mission Studies:

  • Counter-terrorism and Domestic Security Management
  • Securing Our Borders
  • Smart and Tough Enforcement of Immigration Laws
  • Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Disasters

Process Studies:

  • Homeland Security National Risk Assessment
  • Homeland Security Planning and Capabilities

This is the first of  three “dialogues” with the American public to be held during the summer and fall.  Dialogue 2 is scheduled for August 31-September 6 and will have more information and content from the QHSR study groups on the mission and process concepts.  Dialogue 3, scheduled from September 28 through October 4, will give the public and stakeholders one more opportunity to review and offer comments on the “refined mission goals, objectives, key strategic outcomes and enhancements” to the six priorities.

According to DHS officials, the dialogues are intended to transform how the agency engages the American public with regards to an all-hazards approach to homeland security and counter-terrorism. They are also intended to meet the consultation mandate included in 2007’s 9/11 bill (aka “The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007”).  That bill required the Secretary to conduct the QHSR  in consultation with

  • the “heads of Federal Agencies” (including the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretaries of State, Defense, Health & Human Services, Treasury,  and Agriculture);
  • key officials of DHS; and
  • other relevant governmental and nongovernmental entities, including State, local, and tribal government officials, members of Congress, private sector representatives, academics, and other policy experts.

Overall, the Web 2.0 idea  is a fresh approach to communicating to and with the public (at least the connected public) on addressing homeland security issues. The website, hosted by the National Academy  of Public Administration, is easy to navigate and provides a mission statement on each item, as well as goals.   Reviewers who log in are giving the opportunity to rate whether they agree with the overall statements and provide comments. Additionally, participants can suggest their own ideas and alternative proposals for the six study areas.  To date, it appears that between 9 and 44 persons have logged in to provide ratings and comments.

The real test of the success of the dialogues will come over the next several days when we see how many citizens log in and upload thoughts and ideas for DHS.  Even a bigger test will be whether those who do offer opinions are “outside the Beltway,” offering local perspectives from New York, Atlanta, Houston, Peoria, and beyond.  Input from those communities would strengthen the QHSR and be in line with Secretary Napolitano’s comments last week at the Council of Foreign Relations that communities are our “greatest asset” and “you are the ones who know if something is not right in your communities.”

I would encourage anyone reading this to check out the site and offer your thoughts on the goals and priorities of the QHSR. Even better, once you finish doing that, share the site with a few (or few hundred) of your friends around the country so they can do the same.

July 23, 2009

If a dog barks on the internet …?

Filed under: DHS News,Events,General Homeland Security,Strategy — by Christopher Bellavita on July 23, 2009

If you are interested enough in homeland security to be reading this, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Academy of Public Administration want you to participate in something called the National Dialogue on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR). Information about the Dialogue can be found at this link.

The first “meeting” is scheduled for August 3 through 9.  It is intended to be a “conversation between you, other Homeland Security stakeholders, and DHS on an innovative web-based platform.” (One hopes the “you” might also include unaffiliated people with a point of view about homeland security.)

The first dialogue “will seek your opinion on general priorities of different Homeland Security mission areas. During this session, you will be able to evaluate the missions and goals proposed by DHS study groups, and rate, tag, and suggest your own alternative proposals.”

Two additional dialogues are scheduled for later in 2009.  The QHSR has to be turned in to Congress on Thursday, December 31, 2009.  Presumably by the close of business, before everyone leaves for the long weekend.

Yes, this whole National Dialogue could turn into another one of those anemic “we involved our stakeholders” justifications slogged out with the National Response Plan, Target Capabilities List, Universal Task List and their mechanical cousins.

But it might also be an opportunity for well-intentioned people to discover how broad collaboration, Web 2.0, social networks, mashups, and lord knows what else can contribute to a homeland security future worth creating.

You can sign up on the www.homelandsecuritydialogue.org website to receive emails for “news and announcements about the National Dialogue, and be notified when each Dialogue is live.”

I am persuasively informed that signing up does not put you on any of the special “lists” that may or may not be maintained by agencies that may or may not exist.

Besides, as we learned during the Web 1.0 days:internet_dog1

July 15, 2009

Summer reruns: HSAS and counterterrorism reform

Filed under: DHS News,Legal Issues,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on July 15, 2009

Tonight  and tomorrow I have  meetings near a beautiful mid-Atlantic beach.  This morning I am heading down early to walk  the sand and, if the waves permit, ride some crests.  So two reruns:

Yesterday Napolitano announced a 60-day review of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). A task force will assess the effectiveness of the system for informing the public about terrorist threats and communicating protective measures within government and throughout the private sector.  A complete announcement and some helpful background is available from the Department of Homeland Security website.

Back in November and December I was invited to review and make recommendations regarding the twenty-four Homeland Security Presidential Directives signed by President Bush. I suggested that six be affirmed and adapted.   Here’s what I offered regarding the HSAS.

HSPD–3: Homeland Security Advisory System

Delegate for review outside the White House and Revise. This is a notorious system that undermines public confidence in Homeland Security. But sudden abrogation would complicate several current procedures for jurisdictional alert and response.

Delegation for review and revision outside the White House was my most common recommendation for most of the HSPDs.

Many are surprised to see President Obama “continuing” several Bush administration anti-terrorism polices.  Examples include extraordinary rendition, the use of military tribunals, preserving state secrets, and other policies and tactics.

This administration’s unfolding approach certainly deserves close-attention (power corrupts and so on…),  but so far I perceive a careful reforming (and occasional rejection) of Bush policies rather than simple continuation.  Obama is as tough a counter-terrorist as Bush or Cheney, but much more attuned to being publicly explicit regarding rationale, legal process, and desired outcomes.

In this — coincidentally or not — I see the administration carrying out what Philip Bobbit recommended in his Spring 2008 tome, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the 21st Century.  In a review published last year by the Homeland Security Affairs Journal, I wrote and quoted as follows:

Bobbitt’s mitigation goes far beyond resilient design of critical infrastructure; it is focused on resilient design of our constitutional order. He argues for vigorous – some will say Draconian – measures of prevention, preparedness, and mitigation. But unlike so many making similar arguments he insists these measures must emerge from thoughtful, transparent, and principled legislation, executive enforcement, and judicial review. We must behave wisely and consistently as a state of consent or – without ever intending so – we are likely to end up living in a state of terror.

“The states of consent must develop rules that define what terrorism is, who is a terrorist, and what states can lawfully do to fight terrorists and terrorism. Unless we do this, we will bring our alliances to ruin as we appear to rampage around the world, declaring our enemies to be terrorists and ourselves to be above the law in retaliating against them. We will become, in the eyes of others, the supreme rogue states and will have no basis on which to justify our actions other than the simple assertion of our power. At the same time, we must preserve our open society by careful appreciation of the threat that terror poses to it and not by trying to minimize that reality or to appease the sensibilities of people who would wish it away… We must do this because an open society depends upon a government strong enough and foresighted enough to protect individual rights. If we fail to develop these legal standards, we will find we are progressively militarizing the domestic environment without having quite realized that we are at war. And, when a savage mass strike against us does come, we will react in a fury that ultimately does damage to our self-respect, our ideals, and our institutions (p. 394).”

I will not be thinking about either of these — or other — important issues as I paddle in place watching for the perfect wave.

June 15, 2009

The Blog @ Homeland Security

Filed under: DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on June 15, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security — like the rest of government — continues its trudge into 2.o communications with the announcement of The Blog @ Homeland Security.  According to the site:

The Blog @ Homeland Security provides an inside-out view of what we do every day at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Blog lets us talk about how we secure our nation, strengthen our programs, and unite the Department behind our common mission and principles. It also lets us hear from you.

One hopes the conversation there will be as human as the exchanges at … full stop.

I almost wrote “as human as the exchanges at the TSA Evolution of Security blog.”  But when I went there to check out the url, I discovered the Evolution of Security blog evolved into the disturbingly literal “The TSA Blog.”  I missed when the title change went into effect. However the blog does retain its tag line: Terrorists Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play A Part.

I’m digressing now, but I thought the [old] TSA blog was the best blog I knew about in government. I did not agree with everything the authors wrote, but one could tell there were human beings explaining, defending, and disagreeing with those who objected to some part of TSA’s practices.  Government and the governed were talking about homeland security, and sometimes to each other.

More importantly, to me, the blog acknowledged that since terrorists and threats evolve, security too has to evolve — a stance seemingly premised on [old?] TSA’s understanding of complex adaptive systems (which TSA describes here).  That attitude helped create what I thought was a healthy dialectic on the blog.  The dialectic may still be there.  The title is not.  Survival of the suitable?

Back on point: it’s my hope that The Blog @ Homeland Security comes closer to the affect of the [old?] TSA Blog than to the luncheon speech tone of the [old?] DHS Leadership Journal [blog]

Welcome to the InterTubes, The Blog @ Homeland Security.

March 6, 2009

DHS Intergovernmental Lead Named

Filed under: DHS News,Organizational Issues,State and Local HLS — by Philip J. Palin on March 6, 2009

Secretary Napolitano has appointed Juliette Kayyem as Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Programs. Since 2007 Ms. Kayyem has served as Undersecretary of Homeland Security in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

Prior to this role Ms. Kayyem was with Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where she focused on the intersection of democracy and counter-terrorism policies. At the Kennedy school she taught courses on law, homeland security, and national security. She is a 1995 graduate of Harvard Law School and served in the Department of Justice during the Clinton administration.

The intergovernmental role at DHS is crucial. It can be – needs to be – an effective broker for communication and collaboration between the Department and non-federal Homeland Security assets. Because the Assistant Secretary’s office does not wield budgetary or supervisory authority its effectiveness depends on the perceived relationship of the occupant to the Secretary and other senior officials.

I don’t pretend to know the personal dynamics between Napolitano and Kayyem. But here are two soft-signals:

1. In what may be the most lawyerly administration since William Howard Taft, Janet and Juliette are each lawyers. Those who claim to know Janet consistently comment on her prosecutorial perspective. Juliette is a lawyer married to a lawyer. Like minds with a shared mission can make a powerful team.

2. Juliette was on the transition’s Agency Review Team for DHS. As such, she was – we can hope – involved in the vetting and preparation of Janet. For the sake of productive intergovernmental relations  and achievement of the HS mission we can also hope they got on famously and will continue to do so.

Administrative Note: Technical difficulties on the part of the host for HLSwatch have delayed and continue to complicate today’s posts.

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

April 9, 2008

DHS Names New IT Chief

Filed under: Cybersecurity,DHS News,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 9, 2008

Richard Mangogna is the new DHS Chief Information Officer, according to a DHS press release. The announcement is noteworthy for its brevity.

Before we get into the investigation, DHS deck chairs move as follows: Mangogna succeeds Scott Charbo, who was appointed deputy undersecretary of National Protection and Programs. Since Charbo’s departure, Deputy CIO Charles Armstrong has served as acting CIO. Armstrong will support Mangogna’s on-boarding before moving over to become CIO for Customs and Border Protection.

Not a lot out there on Mr. Mangogna. He is identified in the official release as an independent consultant with the Mason Harriman Group. MHG doesn’t list any of its staff on its website. It characterizes its employees as consultants who “are 45 seasoned former C-Level executives from the Fortune 200.” Only generic contact information is available, but at least we can tell where MHG is located: Towaco, N.J.

The White House and DHS releases cite Mangogna as a former president and CEO of Covidea. You don’t know Covidea? The New York Times and Covidea announced a videotex service on September 16, 1986, with a product called New York Pulse. On December 6, 1988, Covidea closed its videotex services, Pronto and Business Banking. New York Pulse shut down the following year.

So what’s the new DHS CIO been up to for the last twenty one years? The Administration only acknowledges that Mangogna worked as executive vice president and CIO at JP Morgan Chase and was the division head of Business Re-engineering Management at Chase Manhattan Bank. I found no evidence of the Business Re-engineering Management role. In its 1999 annual report, Chase Bank refers to him as Global Bank CIO.

It is unclear why more wasn’t said about his experience there. When Chase and JP Morgan merged in 2000, a massive systems and business integration project began. As CIO for the newly created company, Mangogna co-chaired the technology and operations steering committee that guided the integration of the technology that supported the operations of about 100,000 employees with systems across the country and on six continents, involving more than 90 data and processing centers, according to a 2001 piece in InfoWorld. You might say that’s a transferable skill set.

However, DHS is a larger undertaking. With over 200,000 employees operating in a different paradigm than pre-9/11 banking, DHS represents a challenge for anyone. USCIS alone is embarking on a major overhaul of its business processes and technology foundation under its $3.5 billion Transformation program. Perhaps more details about Mangogna’s resume will come out in the press. But since the CIO at DHS doesn’t need to be Senate confirmed, it won’t come easily.

Final note: When Chase Bank purchased a major new Sun Microsystems server for about $900K back in 1999 (that was big then), Mangogna justified the investment, explaining “IT performance is a competitive weapon in the global economy.” He might easily update that assessment to include the bigger picture that DHS is responsible for.

March 22, 2008

4 Administration HLS Officials Named

Filed under: DHS News,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on March 22, 2008

The Bush administration has named four candidates to fill top homeland and national security positions after a protracted effort to fill the top White House counterterrorism post, left open since January.

wanstein.jpg beckstrom.jpg leiter-nctc.jpg charbo.jpg

HLS Advisor to POTUS – Wainstein

Frances Fragos Townsend announced her resignation last November as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. In that position, Townsend also served as chair of the White House Homeland Security Council. News reports surfaced that known figures, such as retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, former CENTCOM Commander, and Adm. (Ret.) James Loy, former Coast Guard Commandant and Deputy Homeland Security Secretary, turned down offers by the White House to succeed Townsend. With one year left in this term, it is hard to blame them for declining to return to government service on that note. Townsend’s former deputy, Joel Bagnal, a former Army colonel, has served in an Acting position since her departure and according to those I’ve spoken with, he maintains a great deal of respect in the interagency.

On Wednesday, the President nominated Kenneth Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, to replace Frances Townsend at the White House. Townesend came from the Department of Justice, and Wainstein seems to fit the mold of stalwart Administration supporter and institutional insider that would serve Townsend’s successor well. Since the position is not Senate confirmed, his prickly relationship with the Senate Judiciary Committee is unlikely to be an issue. Wainstein’s main responsibility at this point, barring any attack on the homeland in the meantime, will be to shepherd a transition to the next Presidential administration.

Chief CT Advisor – Leiter

Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Scott Redd stepped down as director of the National Counterterrorism Center last October for health reasons. The post went officially unfilled until this week when the White House announced that the President is nominating Michael Leiter to become succeed VADM Redd. Leiter is well respected in the intel community and has served since Redd’s departure as Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Cyber Czars Named – Beckstrom, Charbo

The president announced a multi-agency cybersecurity initiative late last year after the director at the National Cyber Security Division, Amit Yoran, resigned in October 2007. The job was previously a White House position held by Howard Schmidt and Richard Clarke.

Four months later, President Bush picked Scott Charbo as Deputy Undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, primarily in charge of the Department’s cybersecurity mission. It seems Charbo will have two roles: combating attacks on U.S. cyber netrworks and weathering attacks from the House Homeland Security Committee. Chairman Thompson is not a fan.

Last Thursday, Secretary Chertoff announced the appointment of Rod Beckstrom as Director of the National Cyber Security Center, which replaces the National Cyber Security Division that Yoran led.

As part of the Administration’s recently announced Cyber Initiative, DHS is responsible for leading federal efforts to protect government networks against cyber-associated threat. Beckstrom is the co-founder of the open-source wiki software system, TWIKI.net, founder of Cats Software, and author of The Starfish And the Spider, which is about the advent of leaderless, decentralized organizations and the power of networks (both human and electronic).

March 4, 2008

Chertoff Convenes Bloggers

Filed under: DHS News,Events — by Jonah Czerwinski on March 4, 2008

Yesterday Homeland Security Secretary Mike Chertoff sat down with a group of homeland security bloggers to discuss the upcoming 5-year anniversary of the Department, accomplishments under his watch, and other topics. In what became more of a rapid fire reverse panel discussion, Chertoff sat opposite the eight of us fielding exactly one question from each person. The topics ranged from immigration modernization to cyber security to warrantless wiretaps. As usual, the Secretary enthusiastically – if sometimes combatively – took on every question with the gusto of a real policy wonk.

Rather than rehash for you the details, you can access transcript of the roundtable from the DHS website. The transcript does not name questioners, but I asked the first question on USCIS Transformation, and others in the group were Ryan Singel of Wired, Townhall.com’s Amanda Carpente, Jeff Stein of CQ, J.P. Freire from American Spectator, Counterterrorism Blog’s Andrew Cochran, and Rich Cooper, former DHS official and contributor to Security Debrief. It was a great opportunity to meet these individuals in person

Because the meeting became more like a press interview than a discussion, I believe that we could have used the time better. Actually, we could’ve simply used more time, but that’s impractical. See the transcript for the details. It gets exciting when Jeff Stein digs in on the use of intel from warrantless wiretaps. See Ryan Singel’s distillation for highlights, too.

January 31, 2008

TSA Joins the Blogroll

Filed under: DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 31, 2008

The Transportation Security Administration took a step into the blogosphere with its new outlet called “Evolution of Security.”  This looks a lot different form the DHS/HQ blog set up by the Secretary.  TSA says that the purpose of its blog is “to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on innovations in security, technology and the checkpoint screening process.”  More of a two-way street.

Kip Hawley made the first post, and it sounds like an excellent start.  Hawley states that “While I and senior leadership of TSA will participate in the discussion, we are turning the keyboard over to several hosts who represent what’s best about TSA (its people). Our hosts aren’t responsible for TSA’s policies, nor will they have to defend them — their job is to engage with you straight-up and take it from there. “

Refreshing.  The bloggers assuming the keyboard cover a number of positions, but they are also practically anonymous.  Bob, Ethel, Jay, Chance, and Jim will be providing content.  While the informality is welcome, the introduction is a little awkward.  (“I like music, I love ice cream, and I adore weird facts,” begins one bio.)  In any case, the line-up includes a senior Transportation Security Officer, a Federal Security Director, and a staffer (referee?) from the Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, among others.

Judging by the surfeit of comments the first post has generated (98 in one day as of this posting), they are hitting the ground running.

November 19, 2007

White House Homeland Security Advisor Resigns

Filed under: DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 19, 2007

The White House announced today that Francis Fragos Townsend, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, resigned.  She served as head of the President’s Homeland Security Council for the last nearly five years and oversaw the development of the recent update to the National Strategy for Homeland Security, the lessons learned report on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and the fires on the west coast. 

Townsend with Chertoff and HHS Secretary
No word yet on who will replace Ms. Townsend.  Her recently appointed deputy, Joel Bagnal, stepped in for former Deputy HLS Advisor Ken Rapuano after he deployed for a tour in Afghanistan.  Will Mr. Bagnal step in for Townsend?The President reportedly asked all senior political appointees nearly a year ago to decide promptly if they’ll stay until the end of his term.  If not, they were to step down soon to be replaced.  Every President faces an exodus near the end of the second term, and that makes the request sensible.  That Townsend is leaving now — and without an immediate replacement — prompts questions about that wing of the White House.  Who fills that job takes up a great task of shepherding a homeland security mission during very difficult times, and does so by inheriting a new strategy he or she may or may not have had a hand in writing.  Given these circumstances, expect an insider like Bagnal to be named. 

I sure could be wrong on Townsend’s replacement.  Readers are encouraged to comment on who they think will be the new Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

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