Department of Homeland Security

TSA seeks chief innovation officer

Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is looking for an executive-level chief innovation officer. Salary is $127,914 to $184,620 per year. Submission deadline is October 29.

Responsibilities:

The Chief Innovation Officer reports directly to the Executive Director of Strategy, Policy Coordination, and Innovation under the Chief of Staff, Transportation Security Administration and as such supports and implements the TSA Administrator’s vision, strategy, and direction for the agency. The Chief Innovation Officer leads TSA’s enterprise innovation program, including managing and exercising executive and technical authority for the following functions:

Leading the agency’s enterprise innovation efforts to meet the goals and objectives of the TSA Strategy, Administrator’s Intent, and other Administrator priorities. Recognizing promising ideas, processes, and approaches and finds ways to introduce them into the organization.

Leading an innovation team that facilitates a cross-organizational process that encourages creative thinking and provides an avenue for employees and stakeholders to submit ideas. Receiving, evaluating, recommending and prioritizing innovation submissions. Providing employee and stakeholder feedback on submissions.

Capturing entrepreneurial ideas and innovative practices throughout TSA. Strategizing with senior leaders and their program offices to transform general ideas into workable solutions.

Collaborating with executive and senior TSA leadership to prioritize, resource, and implement innovative solutions. Engaging TSA leadership and program offices to discover new solutions and approaches to old problems. Analyzing existing practices to isolate areas for improvement or enhancement, including challenges associated with transitioning new solutions into execution.

Collaborating with TSA senior leaders and stakeholders to develop actionable milestones and performance metrics to measure effectiveness of the agency’s innovation program. Tracking the implementation of new or revised practices, assesses the progress, recommends changes to implementation plans of action and milestones, and evaluates the success of implementation.

When delegated, representing the TSA Administrator in executive and senior-level interagency, international, and stakeholder engagements in order to formulate effective new ideas and innovative strategies to improve TSA’s approach to doing business.

Assessing research and development of other organizations to spot trends in innovation and possible opportunities. Engaging external stakeholders, non-traditional industries, academia, think tanks, industry, and others to gain insight on potential opportunities for TSA to leverage.

Leading the communication of TSA’s innovation goals and processes to the workforce and stakeholders. Collaborating with senior leadership to develop and advance improvement in workforce innovation and the skills underpinning them.

Full job post.

Pineapple or pepperoni? Homeland Security’s pizza analogy hopes to educate the public on foreign interference of elections

Sailors prepare pizzas.
Photo: U.S. Navy

Because “responding to foreign interference requires a whole of society approach,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has published resources that help educate the public on ways hackers can impact U.S. elections.

These include primers on how foreign interference works (using the relatable example, “American Opinion is Split: Does Pineapple Belong on Pizza?”), associated terms, and the intricate nuances of social media bots.

DHS defines foreign interference as:

Malign actions taken by foreign governments or foreign actors designed to sow discord, manipulate public discourse, discredit the electoral system, bias the development of policy, or disrupt markets for the purpose of undermining the interests of the United States and its allies.

The initiative is part of Homeland Security’s #Protect2020 campaign to “enhance the security and resilience of election infrastructure, and to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the free and fair elections foundational to the American way of life.”

GovReady wins $1.1M DHS contract to make security more open

GovReadyThe U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it has awarded startup GovReady a $1.1M certification and accreditation contract that will be critical to bringing an open source approach to security.

“GovReady will develop tools to help developers through the C&A process and in doing so open the door for more secure, compliant and quality software systems,” said DHS announcing the award.

“The C&A process is essential, but, in its current state, unnecessarily difficult for small businesses to navigate,” said Homeland Open Security Technology Program Manager Dr. Dan Massey. “This project will help to even the playing field between large and small business by giving everyone an opportunity to provide software to the government.”

Full release

DHS report outlines challenges, opportunities of open source in government

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Open Security Technology projects released a report on the challenges and opportunities of open source software within government along with recommendations to address and overcome these.

The report “Open Source Software in Government: Challenges and Opportunities,” authored by David A. Wheeler, Institute for Defense Analyses and Tom Dunn, Georgia Tech Research Institute, is based on interviews conducted in 2011.

The report emphasizes the importance of case studies to highlight open source execution within government, bringing more awareness to support and warranty options, simplify code release processes and increase education around license guidance and procurement.

To no one’s surprise, issues such as fear of change, transition costs, contentment with incumbent software, lack of software expertise due to outsourcing and questions about security and code quality are inhibitors to government OSS adoption.

Key excerpt:

“Many contractors and government employees did not understand laws and policies regarding OSS. For example, a government employee stated “Federal departments are not in touch with the power already in their hands with existing policy. They are waiting for some legislation or executive order, and are not willing to stick their neck out.” Another government employee concurred, noting “There is no barrier to the use and development of OSS or public domain software.” Also, the interviewers encountered pervasive use of the term “commercial software” as an antonym of OSS. Yet U.S. law defines commercial software in a way that includes most OSS.”

Full report

Got natural disasters? There’s an open source emergency preparedness toolkit for that

City72

Source: toolkit.sf72.org

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and woke up at to a 6.1 earthquake at 3:30 a.m. this morning, now would be a good time for citizens and local governments everywhere to take a look at City72 Toolkit.

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management recently partnered with design firm IDEO to create the City72 Toolkit, an open source “emergency preparedness platform that promotes community resilience and connection.”

The toolkit is now freely-available to cities everywhere to re-purpose and customize to provide information to their own residents.

SFDEM’s Kristin Hogan Schildwachter shares the inspiration for City72 and how other cities can easily create their own.

What is City72 Toolkit?

City72 is an open source emergency preparedness platform that promotes community resilience and connection. This toolkit is designed specifically for emergency preparedness organizations and provides the information and resources to create a customized City72 site for any city or region.

It includes:

  • how to create localized content;
  • access to the code to build and install your City72 website; and
  • tips for how to manage and promote your site

How did it come about?

Until 2009, in San Francisco we were following the prescriptive “Make a Plan. Get a Kit. Be Informed.” emergency preparedness messages, which we modeled after FEMA’s national preparedness campaign “Ready.” And what we found was that we were only reaching a small percentage of the general public: the already prepared.

So, in 2008 our deputy director of emergency services, Rob Dudgeon, kicked off an initiative to redefine how we messaged and packaged emergency preparedness with the mantra “If we keep promoting emergency preparedness this way, we’re only going to get who we’ve already gotten prepared.”

We leveraged a lot of research based on social science data and also the findings from a major project assessing state of Bay Area Preparedness (the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative) Community Preparedness Project) to develop a communications strategy to redefine how we messaged emergency preparedness.

This strategy, the DEM Preparedness Movement Communications Strategy, became the basis upon which we communicated about emergency preparedness and informed our in-person and social media communications, but it was not reflected in our emergency preparedness website (at the time): www.72hours.org. We knew we needed to rebrand this website to align with our communications strategy, so we secured some grant funding and issued a request for proposal to redesign www.72hours.org.

IDEO bid on the RFP, and through a competitive process they were the selected vendor. From there, IDEO and its human-centered design approach helped us to manifest our vision resulting in www.sf72.org.

Meanwhile, we wanted to share our findings, experience and redefinition of preparedness messaging within the emergency management community at large. So, we wrote within the terms our final deliverable that it the web site be open source, so any other city could have access to SF72.org’s design and content.

To make this a more tangible possibility, we worked with IDEO to create the City72 toolkit.

How can others use it?

The City72 Toolkit provides cities ready to create their own version of City72.org step by step instructions for how to set up their site. It’s recommended to have some technical support from a web developer (or an internal city resource or contractor).

Who’s using it and how?

Right now, Johnson County, Kansas is in the process of creating its own version of City72 (to be called JoCo72.org). We have had conversations with other city offices of emergency management about City72, and we are hoping they may be the next generation of City72 sites.

How can others connect with you to learn more?

We would be thrilled to talk with anyone interested in City72.org. We can be reached via email at sf72@sfgov.org and/or Twitter at @sf72org.

Video

City72 Tour from SFDeptEmrgcyMgmt on Vimeo.

Quick links: Federal agency open government plans

Put down the best-seller and cancel the rest of Spring Break, the White House announced today federal agencies have released their open government plans. The plans are part of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative and should make for great beach reading.

From the White House:

The Plans will make operations and data more transparent, and expand opportunities for citizen participation, collaboration, and oversight. These steps will strengthen our democracy and promote accountability, efficiency and effectiveness across the government.

Here are direct links to all plans (those not linked are not available or not easily visible, so let me know if you find them):

Should government outsource long-term or crisis-related social media?

Just noticed this contract solicitation submitted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a ‘professional media services company with experience and reliability in the deployment and delivery of professional broadcast transmission equipment and crews to various locations … used during pre- and post-declared federal disasters to support the OEA in its mission to prepare and disseminate information to the public.’

Having an outside contractor be heavily responsible for this role detaches the agency from its mission-critical work. I can understand services related to training and establishing processes that can then be left for agency employees to execute, but on-call assistance? Long-term or crisis-related social media and outreach should be the agency’s core focus.

What do you think?

From the solicitation:

FEMA’s OEA requires on-demand services of a professional media services company with experience and reliability in the deployment and delivery of professional broadcast transmission equipment and crews to various locations throughout the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. These services are used during pre- and post-declared federal disasters to support the OEA in its mission to prepare and disseminate information to the public.

The contractor(s) will be responsible for working with FEMA personnel to produce and deliver pre- and post-event information, including public communications, through national and local news media, agency social media efforts, and situational awareness support of: the Agency Administrator’s Office, senior leadership, the Disaster Operations Division (to include the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) and all Regional Response Coordination Centers), Headquarters, Regional Offices, Joint Field Offices, Transitional Recovery Offices, Long Term Recovery Offices, and other DHS/FEMA facilities.

(HT Washington Technology)

GovRx: Prescription for immigrant healthcare

Regardless of nationality, people from all over the world are treated in American hospitals. You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to purchase private health insurance in the U.S. nor do you have to be a citizen to pay to see a doctor. The U.S. has a private healthcare system that is open to everybody, who pays.

Unfortunately, the cost of health care and insurance can be as much as a family annual income depending on the type of work you do. So why do some wait until a health problem requires the most expensive emergency room care to treat it? One reason is the federal law. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) sought to reduce federal spending. This law has had the opposite effect.

Some who are uncertain of their immigration status do not apply for benefits because they are afraid.

Under this legislation, undocumented immigrants became ineligible for Medicaid and other federally-funded social services, and only eligible for emergency medical assistance. The Act also requires that all state and federal welfare agencies report any illegal immigrants who apply for benefits to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now the Department of Homeland Security) unless it’s health care delivered in the emergency room.

Emergency Medicaid is predominantly a program for childbirth coverage, although use and spending are shifting toward non-pregnant adults, particularly those who are elderly and disabled. Whether or not a person is eligible for Medicaid will depend on the State where he or she lives. Medicaid spending for emergency care, of recent and undocumented immigrants (although a small proportion of the total Medicaid budget) is increasing in some states. While states are not required to identify or report their Medicaid expenditures specific to undocumented aliens, some states do provide data suggesting that most of their emergency Medicaid expenditures were for services provided to undocumented aliens.

According an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, treatment of unauthorized immigrants contributes to uncompensated care costs, but the main reason such costs are increasing is the rise in the number of people who lack health insurance. Immigrants represent only about 20% of the uninsured.

We now have a growing, uninsured, aging population. We need a better alternative to our current system because in the end, we are all paying for this expensive emergency room care. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Reduce costly healthcare expense by creating legislation that does not direct people to the emergency room
  • Encourage the sharing of aggregate, non-confidential provider data to track expense trends
  • Consider alternatives to voluntary, ad hoc state reports in guiding national health policy
  • Focus on reducing government expense and not enforcement in the healthcare setting

Cabinet members brief Amercan citizens in Year One videos

President Obama’s Cabinet taped Year One videos to highlight their respective department or agency’s 2009 accomplishments and or goals for the next year.

What do you think? Which are most informative? Authentic? Is this an effective way to familiarize citizens to public servants and put a face on government?

Secretary Robert Gates, Department of Defense:

Secretary Steven Chu, Department of Energy:

Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation:

Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack, Department of Agriculture:

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Department of State:

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency:

Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Department of Treasury:

Secretary Janet A. Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security:

Secretary Gary F. Locke, Department of Commerce:

Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Department of Labor:

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services:

Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar, Department of the Interior:

Ambassador Ronald Kirk, United States Trade Representative:

Ambassador Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations:

Director Peter R. Orszag, Office of Management & Budget:

Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice:

Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, Department of Veterans Affairs:

Chair Christina Romer, Council of Economic Advisers:

Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education: