Homeland Security

The homeland security challenges facing the nation today are more complex than they were on September 11, 2001.  The transition of newly elected and appointed officials at all levels of government represents a loss of institutional knowledge for the homeland security enterprise.  The recession has affected the abilities of state and local governments and the private sector to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond and recover from disasters and emergencies.  Most ominously, there is steadily increasing attempts to bring terror and manmade destruction to the homeland of the United States.

Does GIS—geographic information system—sound too much like techno babble? Well, thousands of Virginia emergency management officials use the technology all the time. In fact, it often is the difference in making a quick, emergency decision to save lives and property versus scrambling to get all the necessary information in a crisis. Virginia uses GIS mapping combined with real-time data in its intuitive Virginia Interoperability Picture for Emergency Response program, nicknamed VIPER.

According to a new report released today by the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States has dropped to 11.1 million in 2009 from a peak of 12 million in 2007, an 8 percent decline.   The researchers note that this is the "first significant reversal" in illegal immigrant growth in the last twenty years.

The study found that fewer illegal immigrants came to the United States every year between 2007 and 2009 than in years in the first half of the decade.   Specifically, approximately 300,...

On Sept. 11, 2001, my son Jonathan Lee Ielpi, 29, a New York City firefighter and the father of two boys, was killed in the collapse of the South Tower during the World Trade Center attack. My mission then—and we all have missions—was to find my son.

E-Newsletter Issue #53: August 5, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not only the worst environmental accident the U.S. has ever experienced, it’s also a harsh reminder of how—without any warning—one disaster can impact a state’s priorities, budget, elected officials and very future. Adding to the uncertainty for all states is the growing number of disasters across the country.

In the world of state emergency management and homeland security, 2009 was a year of new faces, new threats and new opportunities. It began with the Obama administration tapping several state officials for the top jobs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This was followed by the first flu pandemic in 40 years, with tens of millions of Americans contracting the H1N1 virus. Technology continued to extend its long tentacles with some 40 states using social media Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with citizens about disaster preparedness and safety. All of this occurred as the country experienced its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The challenge in 2010 will be to protect investments to date and still move forward with creative problem solving while state and federal budgets make their way back from the brink.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, The Council of State Governments supports the development of national standards for a public safety broadband network to ensure that technical requirements for access to, reliability of and performance of the network are consistent across the country.

 
How prepared is the U.S. for disasters and emergencies? A new federal task force is looking at just that issue and hopes to make recommendations for improvement to Congress by this fall.
 

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges the Congress and the administration work with CSG’s members on developing alternatives to REAL ID, such as PASS ID, that will allow states to actively participate in the development and implementation of a more secure and sustainable DL/ID system.

NOW BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges the Congress and the administration to work with CSG and CSG’s members as PASS ID moves through the legislative process to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that the legislation includes increased privacy protections, minimizes the cost burden to states, and continues ongoing and substantive stakeholder coordination.

Economic uncertainty in January 2008 evolved into a full-blown recession by the year’s end, impacting everything in its wake, from state budgets to mortgages and from college endowments to car loans. American consumers dealt with rising food costs, plummeting home values and jobs cuts while riding a rollercoaster of fluctuating gas prices. The downturn has meant the loss of sales, income and property taxes, which could have serious ramifications for important state government functions such as emergency management and homeland security. Complicating the fiscal challenges is the first transition of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to a new administration. This has led to a debate over the continued placement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency within Homeland Security. Yet even as that discussion ensues, the most destructive hurricane to hit U.S. soil since 2005—Ike—and the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, serve as reminders that an all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness and experienced leadership are the real answers to threats, whether they are natural or man-made.

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