Homeland Security

May 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The Small Business Administration (SBA) could not fully determine federal agencies’ compliance with spending requirements on programs established to stimulate small business grow and development because most federal agencies surveyed submitted incorrect data, according to a Congressional investigative report.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, found the SBA cannot fully determine if all 11 agencies analyzed met spending requirements for fiscal 2013, citing that nine of the 11 participating agencies failed to follow SBA’s guidance on submitting data on total extramural research and development obligations, the office reported.

May 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at the Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., in March. Photography by Michael Carpenter

As nations teeter on varying threatening precipices of instability around the world posed by terrorist aggressions in the Middle East, tensions on the Korean peninsula and continuing piracy issues off of the Eastern shores of African nations, the list of threats in the United States is no shorter or less worrisome.

March 16, 2015
By Suzanne Petrie Liscouski

We all appreciate and value the opportunities to hear from government. The AFCEA Homeland Security Conference afforded industry and government officials alike the chance to talk and share ideas. One topic of conversation piqued my interest that I think will resonate with both industry and government.

March 11, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Kurt Reuther, acting DHS principal deputy undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, speaks during the Homeland Security Conference and Expo. Photo by Mike Carpenter

AFCEA Homeland Security Conference and Expo Online Show Daily: Day 2

Quote of the Day:
"Standards are like toothbrushes: Everyone has one and no one wants to use someone else's."
—Dan Cotter, director of interoperability and compatibility with the DHS's science and technology First Responders Group

Look out social media aficionados—the FBI could be watching your every post. Well, maybe not every one, and maybe not of everyone. But as social media has become a recruitment tool for terrorists, the popular public platforms have become a new hub for law enforcement as they ramp use of automation technology to scour for actionable intelligence.

March 11, 2015
By George I. Seffers

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has announced its first business accelerator program, EMERGE!, aimed at entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas that address the unique needs of the homeland security community and whose wearable technologies could be adapted for first responder operations.

March 10, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks at the Homeland Security Conference. Photo by Mike Carpenter

Cybersecurity is one of the critical homeland security priorities, along with the threats posed in the varying domains of aviation, border security and maritime, said Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On top of those concerns, add unrest from around the world that poses a threat to national security. As such, securing the nation means the U.S. government simply cannot do it alone.

Enter private industry to the homeland security stage, Mayorkas said Tuesday during the Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

March 10, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Carlos Kizzee from The Center for Internet Security and Rich Struse with the DHS talk about cybersecurity and information sharing at Homeland Security Conference.

Knowing the cybersecurity threat might be half the battle toward mitigating problems, but the popular push and mounting trend toward increased information sharing, particularly between industry and the federal government, is not the be all and end all, according to one security expert.

March 3, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday ended its stalemate and voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security though the end of the fiscal year in September. The vote means the department avoids a shutdown and the furloughing of staff members.

Lawmakers voted 257-167, with most Republicans voting against the bill. The Senate had passed its version of a clean bill last week. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.

At issue was a mostly Republican-led disagreement over the White House’s controversial immigration order to grant temporary work permits to an estimated five million immigrants who entered the United States illegally.  The bill passed Tuesday carries no immigration provisions. 

March 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Government and private sector industrial control systems (ICS) professionals participate in an ICS cybersecurity training exercise at the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) training facility in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The next big cyber attack likely will strike critical infrastructure assets in the United States, which could bring the world’s remaining superpower to its knees, according to cybersecurity experts. This would constitute a crippling assault against national assets such as power facilities, transportation networks, nuclear plants or the drinking water supply, these experts warn.

February 26, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, joined by leadership and employees from the DHS, calls on Congress on Monday to fully fund the department.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson voiced a hesitant optimism Thursday that U.S. Congress will come together to fully fund the department before tomorrow’s deadline that could shutter parts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Without a successful vote by Congress, at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the DHS will begin furloughing about 30,000 employees, including most of the headquarters staff, while another 200,000 will work without pay, Johnson said during a press briefing to discuss the need for Congress to pass an appropriations bill to fully fund the department.

February 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
The Coast Guard is conducting demonstrations with unmanned aerial systems for both land-based and National Security Cutter-based operations.

The U.S. Coast Guard is engaged in a major overhaul of airborne reconnaissance capabilities. Ultimately, the various aviation reconnaissance programs will allow the service to shed aging platforms, add unmanned systems, enhance interoperability, improve efficiency and perform its missions more effectively.

The Coast Guard is adding three types of manned, fixed-wing aircraft to its overall reconnaissance fleet—the HC-130J long-range surveillance aircraft and the HC-144A and C-27J, both of which are medium-range reconnaissance platforms. The service also is investigating the possibility of adding small unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in the short term and larger UASs over the long term.

February 9, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
Pat Hickey, an engineer with Galois Incorporated in Portland, Oregon, prepares to fly a mini drone with software rewritten to make it invulnerable to hackers. It is part of the DARPA-funded High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems. By Sandra Jontz

In case you missed it, CBS’s newsmagazine "60 Minutes" this weekend featured a segment with Dan Kaufman, director of the Information Innovation Office (I2O) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who talked about the office’s efforts to outsmart hackers, sex traffickers and those seeking to do harm to the United States.

February 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
The unmanned version of Kaman Corporation’s K-MAX platform demonstrates dropping water on a controlled fire during trials at Griffiss Air Force Base in New York.

After a successful three-year logistics run in Afghanistan aiding the U.S. Marine Corps, an unmanned aerial asset may be repurposed for battles of a slightly different kind, if officials from the Department of the Interior have their way. The unmanned version of the K-MAX medium-lift helicopter, used in the war zone to ferry cargo, might find a new mission in the United States—fighting wildfires under the purview of the federal agency tasked with protecting the country’s natural resources.

January 29, 2014
By George I. Seffers
Smugglers used a makeshift ramp to attempt to drive over a border fence in 2012 but fled when the truck didn’t make it over. Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Homeland Security Department, is calling for a 2015 appropriations bill to fund more technology to help secure the southern border.

Contrary to popular belief, illegal crossings along the southern border of the United States are at their lowest levels since the 1970s, according to Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Homeland Security Department (DHS), who is calling on Congress to pass a 2015 appropriations bill to fund additional security measures for border protection and homeland security.

November 6, 2014
George I. Seffers
Biobots detect and track sounds for search and rescue.

I know what you’re thinking—cockroach karaoke! But that’s just not right.

North Carolina State University researchers have developed technology that allows cyborg cockroaches, or biobots, to pick up sounds with small microphones and seek out the source of the sound. The technology is designed to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.

December 12, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Podcasts are the audio on-demand equivalent of video these days. They are a bit more portable because anyone with a smartphone or tablet can tune in and catch up on episodes—not only all the time but also wherever they want. It’s a bit difficult to watch a movie while driving, although it’s been done. Podcasts also feature one other capability that on-demand viewing does not facilitate: audience participation.

December 10, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The most dangerous threat to the United States may come from cyberspace rather than terrorists, according to a panel of experts. A cyberspace attack could wreak damage that would change the nature of the country, they suggested.

This was one of many issues discussed by a panel on cyber and intelligence on day two of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held in Honolulu December 9-11. The panelists offered that cyber and terrorism are the most realistic threats facing the United States.

November 25, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The contractor that facilitates enrollment in the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program developed an enrollment option to let employees of participating organizations sign up at their offices, saving them the trip to an airport or off-site enrollment center.

November 20, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C., today announced the consolidated screening list (CSL), a streamlined collection of nine different screening lists from the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State and the Treasury that contains names of individuals and companies with whom a U.S. company may not be allowed to do business due to U.S. export regulations, sanctions or other restrictions. The CSL is designed to make it easier for U.S. companies to comply with export laws.

October 27, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Replica grenades used as part of a Halloween costume discovered in a checked bag at Alaska airport.

You would think it would go without saying, but apparently not. So a U.S. Transportation Security Administration representative wrote a brief blog on a few Halloween travel tips if travelers are taking flight with costumes in tow.

It’s OK travel with some types of realistic replica items and props in checked luggage, but anything resembling a bomb or explosive is a no-no. Items that look like grenades, land mines, rocket launchers, shells or bombs cannot be taken on airplanes, even if they are toys or replicas.  

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