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TSA 2014 Year in Review

January 23, 2015 Comments off

TSA 2014 Year in Review
Source: Transportation Security Administration (DHS)

Every day, transportation security officers interact with nearly two million travelers across the United States with a single goal in mind – ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public.

We want to share with you examples of the continued vigilance of TSA officers in protecting our nation’s transportation systems, including some of the most unusual items discovered at checkpoints.

TSA had a busy year in 2014, screening more than 653 million passengers in 2014 (about 1.8 million per day), which is 14.8 million more passengers than last year.

2,212 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging more than six firearms per day. Of those, 2,212 (83 percent) were loaded. Firearms were intercepted at a total of 224 airports; 19 more airports than last year.

There was a 22 percent increase in firearm discoveries from last year’s total of 1,813.

Final Coburn Oversight Report Finds Major Problems in DHS

January 15, 2015 Comments off

Final Coburn Oversight Report Finds Major Problems in DHS
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs

On his final day serving in the U.S. Senate, Senator Tom Coburn released an oversight report, A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Missions and Performance, which finds the Department of Homeland Security is not successfully executing any of its five main missions.

“Ten years of oversight of the Department of Homeland Security finds that the Department still has a lot of work to do to strengthen our nation’s security,” Dr. Coburn explained. “Congress needs to review the Department’s mission and programs and refocus DHS on national priorities where DHS has a lead responsibility.”

The following are some of the report’s key findings:

  • The Department of Homeland Security spent $50 billion over the past eleven years on counterterrorism programs, including homeland security grants and other anti-terror initiatives, but the department cannot demonstrate if the nation is more secure as a result.
  • As of 2014, 700 miles of the Southern border remain unsecured.
  • DHS is not effectively administering or enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, and only 3 in 100 illegal immigrants will ever face deportation.
  • DHS spends more than $700 million annually to lead the federal government’s efforts on cybersecurity, but struggles to protect itself and cannot protect federal and civilian networks from the most serious cyber attacks.
  • DHS has spent $170 billion for natural disasters since 2002, in part because of an increased federal role in which the costs of small storms are declared “major disasters.”

Despite these findings, Senator Coburn expressed optimism about the Department’s future if Congress acts soon to address the problems identified in this report. “I am confident that Secretary Jeh Johnson is leading the Department in the right direction,” Senator Coburn commented. “One of the biggest challenges that Sec. Johnson and DHS face is Congress and its dysfunctional approach to setting priorities for the Department. Congress needs to work with the Department to refocus its missions on national priorities and give Secretary Johnson the authority to lead and fix the Department.”

Firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2013 (November 2014)

January 13, 2015 Comments off

Firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2013 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

  • Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 77 firefighters.
  • Fifty-five firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
  • Fourteen firefighters died while responding to or returning from 14 emergency incidents.
  • Nine firefighters died as the result of vehicle crashes.
  • Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death with 36 firefighter deaths.
  • Seven firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Unmanned Aircraft System Program Does Not Achieve Intended Results or Recognize All Costs of Operations

January 6, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Unmanned Aircraft System Program Does Not Achieve Intended Results or Recognize All Costs of Operations
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General
From press release (PDF):

After spending eight years and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has yet to prove the value of its Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) program while drastically understating the costs, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG). Based on its findings, OIG recommends that CBP abandon plans to spend $443 million more on additional aircraft and put those funds to better use.

United States Secret Service Protective Mission Panel Report (White House intrusions, etc.)

December 23, 2014 Comments off

United States Secret Service Protective Mission Panel Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (United States Secret Service Protective Mission Panel)

Our review and recommendations fall within three general areas: training and personnel; perimeter security, technology, and operations; and leadership. A number of the recommendations go directly to issues highlighted by the events of September 19. Among other things, the Panel believes strongly that the fence around the White House needs to be changed as soon as possible to provide better protection. We recognize all of the competing considerations that may go into questions regarding the fence, but believe that protection of the President and the White House must be the higher priority. As the Executive Branch, Congress, and the Service itself have all recognized, the fence must be addressed immediately.

But the problems exposed by recent events go deeper than a new fence can fix. The Panel thus looked more broadly at the Service, recognizing that issues affecting the Service’s protective operations more generally have their greatest impact on protection of the White House and President. Of the many concerns the Panel encountered, the question of leadership is, in our view, the most important. The Panel found an organization starved for leadership that rewards innovation and excellence and demands accountability. From agents to officers to supervisors, we heard a common desire: More resources would help, but what we really need is leadership.

DHS OIG — IT Security Suffers from Noncompliance

December 23, 2014 Comments off

IT Security Suffers from Noncompliance (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made progress to improve its information security program, but noncompliance by several DHS component agencies is undermining that effort, according to a new report by the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG).

OIG analysts’ Evaluation of DHS’ Information Security Program for Fiscal Year 2014 cited a shift to risk-based management of IT security and implementation of an agency-wide performance plan as positive developments. However, the OIG raised concerns over a lack of compliance by components and urged DHS leadership to strengthen its oversight and enforcement of existing security policies.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Residential Building Fires (2010–2012)

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Residential Building Fires (2010–2012) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Residential fires are of great national importance, as they account for the vast majority of civilian casualties. National estimates for 2010-2012 show that 82 percent of all fire deaths and 78 percent of all fire injuries occurred in residential buildings. In addition, residential building fires accounted for over half (57 percent) of the total dollar loss from all fires.

Report findings:

  • An estimated 366,900 residential building fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year and caused an estimated 2,465 deaths, 13,400 injuries and $7 billion in property loss.
  • Cooking, at 47 percent, was the leading reported cause of residential building fires.
  • Residential building fire incidence was higher in the cooler months, peaking in January at 11 percent.
  • Residential building fires occurred most frequently in the early evening hours, peaking during the dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • The leading reported factor contributing to ignition category was misuse of material or product (38 percent).
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