Homeland Security and Public Safety

Napolitano Addresses the Future Goals of DHS, Sequestration Cuts

With the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security looming, Secretary Janet Napolitano plots the future.

At a Brookings Institution event on Tuesday, Feb. 26, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged the upcoming 10th anniversary of the DHS next month by outlining the progress of the organization and goals for the future.

Citing aviation security, cybersecurity, border security and the ability to respond to disasters from all hazards, Napolitano said it’s important to continue developing risk-based strategies, and to continue to foster collaboration between the public and private sectors to facilitate information sharing.

She said information and intelligence analysis have to evolve to the point where the focus of time and energy is on the greatest risks, whether it be people or cargo, to keep the public secure while not inhibiting lawful travel and trade.

“In other words,” Napolitano said, “if we’re looking for a needle in a haystack, an approach that is risk-based allows us to start looking through a much smaller stack while doing away with a cumbersome one-size-fits-all method.”

She said the continued development of cutting-edge technologies will go a long way toward that end. 

On aviation, Napolitano said the threats continue, and addressing international vulnerabilities can be done by improving information sharing, encouraging the deployment of advanced screening technologies and developing international security standards.

“For example, expanding the screening of travelers using Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Records with more countries and sharing the results will allow us to identify potential threats earlier and increase our ability to take action before they board an aircraft to come to the U.S.”

On cybersecurity, she said a top priority is to develop “a 21st-century cyber workforce, the next generation of skilled individuals who want to come to DHS, make an impact and serve their country in this field.”

She also said it is imperative that the public and private sectors work together more effectively by sharing information and promoting adoption of cybersecurity best practices. “We need greater information sharing so that the government can learn from the private sector where people fight this every day,” she said. “And we need to ensure that the government can use information at various levels of classification to help the private sector itself.”

In addressing the sequester and the impact of the $85 billion cuts that would take place this year, Napolitano said it would cost “the equivalent in hours of 5,000 Border Patrol agents. It means less overtime and the ability to hire port officers, so longer lines there and the same for TSA, longer lines there.”

Jim McKay  |  Editor

Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management. He lives in Orangevale, Calif., with his wife, Christie, daughter, Ellie, and son, Ronan. He relaxes by fly fishing on the Truckee River for big, wild trout. Jim can be reached at jmckay@emergencymgmt.com.