December 15, 2009: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today highlighted the Department's 2009 accomplishments in an address to employees—emphasizing the major steps the Department has taken this year to enhance America's capabilities to guard against terrorism; secure the nation's borders; engage in smart enforcement of our immigration laws; prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters; and unify and mature the Department and its 230,000-employee global workforce.
"We have built a spirit of collaboration into everything we do—within DHS and with our state, local, tribal, private sector and international partners," said Secretary Napolitano. "DHS and our 230,000 employees are connected by a common mission and responsibility to protect the United States from all threats and disasters."
The year-end accomplishments outlined today reflect Secretary Napolitano's commitment to strengthening activities in each priority area through three cross-cutting initiatives—increasing cooperation with federal, state, local tribal, private sector and international partners, deploying the latest science and technology to support DHS' mission; and maximizing efficiency in operations across the Department.
To guard against terrorism and threats to cyber networks and critical infrastructure, Secretary Napolitano forged new global partnerships in 2009 to share information, facilitate scientific research and coordinate law enforcement efforts; opened a new DHS-led coordinated cybersecurity watch and warning center; and created a new Fusion Center Program Management Office to support information sharing between federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners.
To secure our borders while facilitating lawful travel and trade, Secretary Napolitano deployed additional personnel and technology to the Southwest border while increasing coordination with federal, state, local and Mexican law enforcement as part of the Obama administration's Southwest Border Initiative; implemented the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative for land and sea travel to the United States; expanded Global Entry, a pilot program that streamlines the screening process at airports for trusted travelers through biometric identification; and entered into new partnerships across the federal government and with international counterparts to crack down on drug and firearms trafficking.
To engage in smart and effective enforcement of our immigration laws, Secretary Napolitano implemented a new, comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy to reduce demand for illegal employment and protect employment opportunities for the nation's lawful workforce; initiated major reforms to the nation's immigration detention system to enhance security and efficiency while prioritizing the health and safety of detainees; and expanded the Secure Communities program, which uses biometric information to target criminal aliens in U.S. correctional facilities, to over 100 jurisdictions across the country.
To prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters, Secretary Napolitano awarded more than $2.1 billion to Louisiana and Mississippi for recovery and rebuilding from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; established two joint public assistance teams and a new arbitration process to resolve long-standing issues over public assistance funding; and partnered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide long-term housing to more than 11,000 families displaced by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike while providing families remaining in temporary Katrina-Rita housing new options to buy their mobile homes and park models.
To unify and mature the Department, Secretary Napolitano has launched major reforms to foster a culture of responsibility and fiscal discipline, including a Department-wide Efficiency Review to cut costs and streamline operations through a series of initiatives ranging from eliminating non-mission critical travel to acquiring enterprise licenses for commonly used software—collectively expected to lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in cost avoidances.