HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Napolitano updates Congress on DHS' IT programs
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told House lawmakers last week that the Homeland Security Department would not meet a deadline of 2012 that requires DHS to scan all cargo bound for U.S. seaports with non-intrusive imaging and radiation detection equipment before the cargo leaves for the United States. Napolitano also told a House panel that DHS would focus on improving intelligence sharing with state and local authorities.
The 100 percent scanning requirement has raised logistical, technological and diplomatic concerns from shippers, carriers, port and terminal operators, and foreign governments. The requirement was part of a 2007 law that allows the homeland security secretary to extend that deadline.
Napolitano also said she planned to make intelligence-sharing with state and local authorities a priority and wanted to focus on the more than 50 state and local intelligence fusion centers around the country.
The Bush administration designated the fusion centers as a central node for the federal government’s efforts for sharing terrorism-related information with state and local officials and Congress has designated DHS as the lead federal agency for that effort. The department is in the process of upgrading its platform for sharing sensitive but unclassified information with state and local officials.
“The fusion of information between the federal, state and local levels is what makes the intelligence gathering process critically valuable to preventing threats from materializing,” she testified. “Information sharing is also what makes response efforts effective.”
Napolitano also discussed a series of directives she has ordered to review DHS’ efforts in areas such as border security, risk management, information sharing with state and local authorities and cybersecurity, saying it was critical to involve the private sector in cybersecurity and she had instructed DHS officials to be sure the department was reaching out to private-sector groups.
Other information technology-related programs she touched on included the SBInet border security program, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program and Real ID.
Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.