DHS

House panel moves drone, FOIA, IT dupe bills

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The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency moved a trio of bills May 20 that would address mitigation of drone attacks, review IT duplications at DHS and speed up the department’s review of Freedom of Information Act requests.

All three measures were approved by voice vote.

One bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to research how small and medium-sized unmanned aerial systems could be used in an attack, as well as how to prevent or mitigate the effects of such an attack. An amendment by Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-N.J.) would require DHS to consult with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Defense on the emerging drone threat and to share information it gathers with state information fusion centers.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is a member of the Cyber Security Caucus, said emerging small drone technology poses a paradigm shift similar to that which networked computers posed to cyberspace. "Drones open up a broad attack surface," he said.

A bill addressing IT duplication would require DHS to assess and report on duplication of information technology within the department. An amendment by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) would establish a roadmap for DHS to follow to avoid loss of data and damage to other systems as the department moves to pare down duplicative systems.

The FOIA bill would require DHS to improve its handling of Freedom of Information Act requests. DHS, which has said it receives the most FOIA requests of any federal agency, has struggled to keep up and has a substantial backlog pegged at 50,000 pending requests. An amendment offered by Jackson Lee would establish provisions for DHS to adopt automated processing of FOIA requests.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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