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Busy Year for DHS with Few Bumps in Road

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Photo: dhs.gov

The Department of Homeland Security has had a busy year.

But for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, the efforts to secure national security don’t just belong in the halls of power in Washington, D.C. but in the town square as well.

“Over the past year, our efforts have been guided by one simple yet powerful idea: homeland security begins with hometown security,” said Napolitano in an address before DHS employees.

Aviation Security

The issue of air safety was again jolted into the headlines at the beginning of the year following an attempt by the alleged Christmas Day bomber to detonate an explosive on board an airplane preparing to land at a U.S. airport.

Napolitano helped lead efforts to create new guidelines for the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization, which fosters global cooperation for threats against commercial airlines.

Cybersecurity

The agency’s work on cybersecurity is perhaps most important, especially in a year that saw increasing furor over a number of cyber threats, from WikiLeaks to Stuxnet.

Napolitano signed a landmark information and resource sharing agreement with the Defense Department to protect against threats to critical computer systems and networks.

DHS launched cybersecurity awareness month in October with the theme “Stop. Think. Connect.”

And, the same month, partnering with other federal agencies and 13 other countries, DHS hosted Cyber Storm III, a cyber simulation exercise to test the federal government’s cyber  response capabilities.

But, it hasn’t all been accolades for the department. Napolitano started out 2010 with some excoriating DHS for its failure to detect the alleged Christmas Day bomber.

And the year ended with  public outcry over full-body scanners and TSA patdowns at airports nationwide.

Still, DHS has racked up an impressive record.

The department has worked “hand in hand” with first responders along with state and local governments, Napolitano said in her speech, and together they’ve made “great strides in protecting our nation from terrorism and other threats while building a culture of resiliency and preparedness in our communities.”

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