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Napolitano hits ground running at DHS

Napolitano hits ground running at DHS


   Janet Napolitano was sworn in Wednesday as the third secretary of the Department of Homeland Security after receiving Senate confirmation Tuesday. She immediately tasked agencies and staff to report back by Jan. 28 with updates on a series of key missions for protecting the nation.

   The former Arizona governor takes over a sprawling department with 208,000 employees and a budget of $46.4 billion that is still trying to best coordinate the activities of 22 component agencies pulled together in 2003.

   The department has the responsibility for building the nation’s defenses against terrorism and for developing response and recovery plans for man-made or natural disasters.

   “One of my top priorities is to unify this department and to create a common culture,” she said in a statement.

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   Napolitano issued directives for reports on critical infrastructure protection efforts, risk analysis, intelligence sharing with state and local governments and the private sector, transportation security, and integrating state and local activities in policy and program planning.

   She instructed the Transportation Security Administration to review current strategies, plans and programs for security of the air, surface and maritime transportation sector, to include a side-by-side comparison of the threat environment, resources and personnel devoted to each transportation sector. The agency must coordinate the report with all necessary components and offices in DHS, as well as outside bodies and advisory councils.

   The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs was ordered to immediately contact every relevant governmental association, such as the National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, League of Cities and Towns, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Emergency Management Association, and the National Congress of American Indians, to communicate that DHS intends to revitalize its relationship with state, local and tribal governments and create a working partnership.

   Napolitano also asked Intergovernmental Affairs to immediately accelerate the process of soliciting and collecting input from state and local governments on how to improve programs and processes at DHS related to critical infrastructure, grant making, interoperability, intelligence collection and dissemination, and other areas. The staff has until Feb. 10 to report back on the integration issue.

      Other information the new DHS secretary wants includes:

   ' How the department enhances private sector participation in protecting critical infrastructure.

   ' Metrics the department uses to analyze risk so that priorities can be made for allocating resources.

   ' The plan and time frame for setting up a full-blown system to govern the establishment of critical infrastructure programs, the priorities among national planning scenarios, and the distribution of grants to state, local, and tribal entities.

   ' How DHS can enhance risk management as the basis of decision-making.

   ' A complete inventory of all activities related to information sharing within and outside the department.

   ' An evaluation of which activities hold the most promise for achieving the smooth flow of information on a real-time basis, taking into account points of view of all stakeholders, including the private sector.

   American Shipper's February issue will include analysis of how DHS should manage the transition to a new administration and steps it must take to improve its capabilities. The feature will be available online Jan. 27. ' Eric Kulisch

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