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Security Beat 


by Elizabeth Book 

Homeland Security Dept. Needs Help
For the proposed Department of Homeland Security to succeed, it will need substantial help from state and local government and the private sector, according to Army Maj. Gen. Bruce Lawlor, senior director of protection and prevention for the White House Office of Homeland Security.

“Terrorism is too big, too complex, too robust. The federal government doesn’t have enough resources,” and coping with it “is a national mission,” requiring the support of all elements of society, he told a Washington, D.C conference, sponsored by the Association for Enterprise Integration, the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University. “It is not just a federal mission,” he added.

U.S. strategy for homeland security is currently focused upon increasing protection for all modes of transportation, Lawlor said. Transportation is also connected to the economy, which is largely dependent on freedom of movement, by air, rail and highway, he said.

The United States needs to find ways to tighten security at its borders without making it too difficult for ordinary visitors to enter the country, Lawlor said. “We must continue to welcome people from all parts of the globe. We have to keep the borders open, and still stop that very small number of people that we don’t want.”

To do a better job of that, the administration has proposed bringing the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Customs Service into the proposed department of homeland security. “We need a mechanism to glue it all together,” Lawlor said.

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Defense Dept. Reaching Out to Small Biz
The Defense Department is growing “increasing dependent on the capabilities of the business community—both large and small—to provide the technology, innovations and ingenuity necessary for homeland security,” said Michael Wynne, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

“We are trying to take full advantage of the innovations that you bring,” Wynne told small business leaders at the U.S. Senate’s Small Business Homeland Security Expo. “The Defense Department considers small business to be a high priority. Approximately 88 percent of all Defense Department prime contractors are small businesses, (which) demonstrates how important this small business world is to our department.

“Our dependence on small business is increasing,” Wynne said. By fiscal year 2001, the number of small businesses receiving contract awards grew by 1,825, he said. Small business received more than $50 billion of Defense Department procurement dollars last year alone, “and more, through our prime contractors,” Wynne said.

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Letter Carriers Won’t Help Track Terrorists
The Department of Justice wants industry to encourage workers to participate in Operation TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System). In certain sectors, “workers are ideally suited to help in the anti-terrorism effort because their routines allow them to recognize unusual events and have expressed a desire for a mechanism to report these events to authorities,” said the program’s web site. The government wants citizens to “identify suspicious or unusual activities in public areas and along transportation routes.”

The United States Postal Service however, has declined to participate in the project until a more constructive plan is proposed. “Our letter carriers are union employees and we could not and would not agree to their participation in this program without first discussing all aspects of the program with them first and allow them input into the decision,” said Sue Brennan, a Postal Service spokesperson.

Operation TIPS is a national program that calls upon “millions of American workers who, in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to see potentially unusual or suspicious activity in public places,” according to its web site, at

The program is one of several comprising one of the Bush administration’s homeland security initiatives, called ‘Citizen Corps.’

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Small Businesses Urged to Participate
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, sponsored the U.S. Senate’s first Small Business Homeland Security Expo, along with Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. They both sit on the Small Business Committee.

Kerry said that small-business technology entrepreneurs have a role in homeland security and can make useful contributions. “For each of these small businesses represented here today, there is the possibility of finding a solution to some of the challenges of making us more secure at less expense,” he said.

“It is the small businesses, particularly on the technology cutting edge, that bring us the high value-added jobs that change the work place, provide greater opportunity and raise the income of our fellow Americans,” he said.

A message to the federal agencies, Kerry said, is that large companies are not the only option when it comes to advanced technology for homeland security. There are thousands of small firms that can “respond quickly, that are more flexible, that have a greater capacity to be able to respond more creatively,” he said. “Many of these companies have contacted our committee, expressing frustration in these past months not knowing how they can access the procurement process, not knowing how they can get noticed, not sure that people in bureaucracy are paying attention to some of the ideas that they have.”

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Assessing Vulnerability of Drinking Water
The Environmental Protection Agency has been “a little skimpish” in taking steps to prevent terrorist attacks against U.S. infrastructure, said Tom Dunne, EPA’s associate assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response. But that’s changing somewhat, he told a recent conference on terrorism.

In response to 9/11, Congress gave EPA an $89 million supplemental appropriation to reduce the vulnerability of the nation’s drinking water to terrorist attack.

Nearly 400 towns, cities and counties around the country are eligible to receive up to $115,000 in grants this year to assess the vulnerability of their water systems and to design an emergency-response plan. These large systems provide drinking water to nearly half of all Americans served by public water systems.

The vulnerability assessments must be complete with six months of the grant award or by the end of the calendar year, whichever is later, EPA said. Other activities under the grant should be completed in a reasonable time thereafter.

Altogether, Dunne said, 15,000 federal, state, local and private facilities are conducting similar risk-management programs, but there may be as many as 500,000 such facilities that need them.

He applauded the American Chemical Society, which in June required its members to adopt a new security code obligating them to:

Some kind of third-party audit is necessary for a facility to get a thorough, objective view of the effectiveness of its security apparatus, Dunne said.

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Coast Guard Project Aims for Rapid Response
The Coast Guard is aggressively pursuing the modernization of its 30-year old National Distress and Response System. The service said the upgraded system would add significantly to its growing homeland security mission. Three companies—General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and SAIC—are vying for a one billion-dollar contract, which would extend to 2020. The companies were each awarded a contract in 2000 to develop the preliminary system design. The downselect will take place this fall.

The existing system is antiquated and is starting to have reliability problems, according to the Coast Guard. Oftentimes, communication is garbled and there are areas where different posts cannot communicate with one another.

The old system leaves 14 percent of the regions uncovered. The 46 Coast Guard regions, at this point, are all autonomous. The modernized system will be a nationwide communication platform that could cover most of the currently existing gaps.

“This system provides situational awareness up to 20 nautical miles from the shore,” said Jeff Osman, of General Dynamics.

It also offers practical information and shows where the resources are, he added.

“One person who sits there and gets the initial call should be able to say these are the assets that are immediately available and which use of the asset will solve the problem,” he said. “It gives them the opportunity to see this is the situation I have, these are the assets I can use, I know where they are, I know where they need to be and I can send for the rescue immediately.”

The new system would detect problems in about one second, be able to locate them, plan the mission, deploy assets and be able to manage rescue missions.

It has three subsystems: ground, vessel and portable. The subsystems will be deployed in 46 group communication centers, will have 300-400 high sites (communication towers), 657 boats and 3,000 handheld radios.

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