The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that gives individuals the right to access information from the federal government; however, some agencies are doing a better job at responding to requests than others. I am currently part of the DHS FOIA backlog.
A few weeks back, I recommended that the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies have a “do-over” of a hearing where the subject was private sector interaction with DHS S&T. The reason I recommended this was because the most successful private sector program at S&T – the SAFETY Act implementation – was never mentioned. On July 28, the same Subcommittee held that “do-over.”
The recent DHS Inspector General test of TSA airport screening processes revealed a 95% failure rate. To improve, tradeoffs will have to be made, and they all have costs. How much the failure rate changes will depend on how much people will want to pay.
There’s an old axiom in science and statistics: correlation does not imply causation. Sometimes what walks and talks like a duck isn’t actually a duck. Technical glitches on Wednesday sure looked like a cyber attack…but they weren’t. Here’s how we know.
DHS needs a uniform policy across all components on disseminating high quality, objective data that provides utility to all who use it. The data needs to be transparent and reproducible. With regards to the collecting and posting of wait times, much work is still needed across at least three agencies: CBP, TSA and USCIS.
There were about 160,000 unanswered FOIA requests in 2014, with the Department of Homeland Security accounting for 65%. The federal government has a culture of risk aversion, but there are four reasons why taking a smart risk in answering FOIA requests would be good for TSA and other agencies.
As much as I like Mel Carraway, it is difficult to disagree with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s decision to reassign Carraway, the (now former) acting TSA Administrator. The news reports of an Inspector General (IG) investigation finding serious problems in TSA screening processes were difficult to ignore. A good man – one whom I am 100% convinced does not condone sloppy security procedures – was sacrificed to set an example to the rest of the agency.
In an era where the public and private sectors alike are using data analytics to better understand and manage resources, DHS’ stance on making customer service compliment and complaint data publicly available is frustrating. This is a missed opportunity, as public access to analyze and learn from this data would improve our national economy, especially the travel and tourism industries.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced at the 2015 RSA Conference that DHS is opening a satellite office in Silicon Valley. His words were vague, leading to questions of why DHS is setting up this office and with whom the Department will be working. Perhaps a more pressing question is, what makes DHS think Silicon Valley wants to work with the federal government in the first place?