Transparency Directives Transform Privacy at DHS – Homeland Security Today

New policies from the Obama administration have been changing the way that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforces privacy protections outside and inside of its components, according to an annual DHS privacy report.

“We stand at a crossroads–where we have great opportunities to advance privacy and transparency on multiple fronts. The DHS Privacy Office has already begun implementation of a two-pronged outreach strategy focused on privacy education. This approach allows the DHS Privacy Office to provide deliberate and specific messaging and outreach inside DHS and the government, as well as to the public,” wrote DHS Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan in an introduction to the report, titled “DHS Privacy Office: Annual Report to Congress.”

DHS released the fifth annual report, covering the period from July 2008 to June 2009, to the public on Sept. 24.

The White House and Congress have enacted several recent changes to how the Privacy Office does its job, the report explained, boosting the department’s emphasis on quick resolution of public complaints and fast fulfillment of requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).