CIOs from the top DHS three-lettered agencies described their challenges, priorities, the price of success, the key to success and the future at the opening panel session at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference today. Jim Flyzik, who has worked on this conference since its inception in 2003, asked tough questions of four of the department's key organizations, and these professionals came back with insightful answers for industry.
Attendees of today's AFCEA Homeland Security conference sessions had the pleasure of hearing a quite spirited presentation by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). Sanchez spoke bluntly to the issues of the DHS mission, border security and cybersecurity, pointing out that these topics are still quite the mystery not only to the general public but to Congress as well. DHS personnel have the lowest morale of all government agencies, she stated.
AFCEA's 9th Annual Homeland Security Conference kicked off yesterday morning with a panel session focused on cybersecurity issues. The panelists highlighted a variety of ongoing federal initiatives to defend the nation's critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and discussed some of the new threats developing in cyberspace. Representing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bruce McConnell, counselor to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Deputy Under Secretary, outlined several efforts being undertaken by the department.
The popularity and growth of social media networks and blogs offers federal agencies new tools to get their message to the nation's citizens. However, the openness of social media platforms also presents a security challenge. A panel of government and commercial media experts pondered the implications of widespread adoption of social media platforms at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference. The U.S. military has recently adopted social networking as an extension of its public affairs activities. Col. Kevin V. Arata, USA, director of the Army Online and Social Media Division, explained that the service wanted to formalize how it approached social media.
Technology has had a significant impact in streamlining the work of Washington D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). This was the message conveyed by D.C. MPD Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier yesterday during a lunchtime address to the attendees at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference. In her three-year tenure as police chief, Chief Lanier has worked to revamp what she described as an antiquated, paper-driven record-keeping and reporting system. She explained that when she became chief in 2007, all police reports were written by hand and hand-delivered by police officers across the department.
Managing the myriad programs designed to provide border security has proved challenging. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched a variety of technology efforts designed to enhance border security. Likewise, civilian firms are deeply involved with DHS in supporting these programs. Two panels running Wednesday examined the government and industry perspectives of coordinating border security. To adequately track the millions of people crossing U.S. borders every day, the DHS launched the US VISIT program. Initiated in 2004, the program logs and records the identities of foreign nationals entering the United States.
No, I'm not talking about the classic Marilyn Monroe film; I'm talking about AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference, going on this Wednesday and Thursday. The theme is "DHS: The 7-Year Itch-Renewing the Commitment." The event will cover such topics as cybersecurity, securing social media, transparency, identity management, information and intelligence sharing, and more. Speakers include Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and W. Ralph Basham.