Federal Drive interviews - Nov. 2

Friday - 11/2/2012, 9:05am EDT

Michael HorowitzInspector General, Justice Department

What happens to suspected illegal immigrants once they go before immigration courts? Seems even the courts themselves aren't too sure. A new report by the Justice Department inspector general suggests: the office running those courts doesn't have a handle on the situation. Its record-keeping is pretty much a mess.

Read the IG report.


Douglas MaughanCybersecurity Division Director, Science and Technology Directorate, Homeland Security Department

The Homeland Security Department just awarded 34 research and development contracts and grants to 29 companies and colleges. It wants to push into new frontiers of cybersecurity, mainly for the financial sector.


Tom BoyattFormer U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso and Colombia

As the military withdraws from battle zones overseas, diplomats are moving in. They deserve as much support from Congress and the White House as the military does. That's the argument made in a new report by the American Academy of Diplomacy. But the report says it's not the case.


Maureen MarionManager, Northeast Area Corporate Communications, USPS

Marion is a 28-year veteran of the Postal Service and currently serves in that agency's Northeast Area Office in Windsor, Conn. The Northeast Area supports all mail processing, delivery and customer service operations supplied through 45 plants, 4,000 delivery and retail units and approximately 90,000 employees. In communications, she manages a territory with 157 daily newspapers and 92 local television stations in markets ranging from Nielsen #1 (New York) to #204, Presque Island, Maine.


MORE FROM THE FEDERAL DRIVE

DoD Report

A special team of Army engineers is draining New York's flooded underground tunnels. They plan to pump at least 300 million gallons of water and return it to the harbors and sea. They are moving slowly so the tunnels won't collapse. The so-called "un-watering team" says it can complete the job in a matter of days. The team first formed after Hurricane Katrina. It's using special pumps from New Orleans in New York City. The Army Corps of Engineers is helping recovery efforts along the East Coast. It's helping FEMA and states restore power, clean up debris and assess infrastructure. (U.S. Army)

The Army is not only downsizing, it's also cutting its dependence on civilians and contractors. Chief of Staff Ray Ordierno says his goal is to reinvest in what he calls the institutional Army. Now that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are winding down, he says he wants uniformed men and women to return to doing a lot of what contractors have been doing for the last decade. Odierno promises to raise the number of non-commissioned officers. But the Army is preparing to cut total uniforms from 570,000 to 490,000. (Federal News Radio)


Sometimes it takes an official audit to remind us of the little things. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration says the IRS is delaying software updates. That's leaving thousands of computers prone to hackers. Like a lot of big organizations, the IRS uses a "patch-management" system to fix software on all computers quickly. That's not the problem. The inspector general says the IRS doesn't have a complete and accurate inventory of its IT equipment. So it can't say for sure whether its system is reaching all of those computers. The inspector general is calling for "enterprise-level" oversight and leadership to make sure all IRS computers get the fixes they need. The IRS is revising its policy and putting its cybersecurity division in charge of agency-wide compliance. (Federal News Radio)

The FBI arrested 13 people on charges they stole more than a million dollars from cash advance kiosks inside casinos. Information Week reports the Los Angeles area gang exploited a security gap by making withdrawals from a single account from multiple locations. All transactions were less than $10,000, and they all occurred within 60 seconds. Withdrawals of more than $10,000 trigger federal reporting. The kiosks are operated by Citibank. The arrests came as the White House prepares an executive order on cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure operators. (Information Week)