Federal Drive interviews – Oct. 29

Richard SpiresCIO, Homeland Security Department

If there had been an Executive Leadership Conference this week in Williamsburg, Richard Spires would have been one of the featured speakers. The storm prevented Spires and about 700 other attendees from having the conference. But Mr. Spires is joining us now, with an update on management and IT activities at DHS.]

Read more:

GAO report: DHS needs to enhance management of cost and schedule for major investments


Ken AllenExecutive Director, ACT-IAC

The organizers of the 2012 Executive Leadership Conference, organized by ACT-IAC, are planning to give refunds to hundreds of participants. Federal managers and government contractors were headed down to colonial Williamsburg in Virginia for the annual event, when the organizers decided yesterday to call it off because of the weather.

Read more:

Hurricane forces cancellation of ELC conference


Cybersecurity Update

The intelligence community is looking for the next Keyhole. The start-up developed a mapping technology that inspired analysts and operators to develop new applications. Google bought Keyhole and applied its technology to Google Earth. The intelligence community reaped the benefits of even more applications and ideas from outside developers, especially when they relate to new cybersecurity technologies and techniques. That’s according to Stephanie O’Sullivan, the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence. She says the Keyhole style of commercial innovation and distribution will help the United States keep its intelligence and cybersecurity advantage. (Defense Department)

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says her department is trying to build a diverse cyber workforce by strengthening career paths. One of those is a new program for recent college graduates. The Secretary’s Honors Program recruits, retains and develops entry-level candidates with “exceptional” talent in all of the Department’s fields. Participants rotate through DHS to see how each component tackles cyber issues. After two years, they may be offered permanent jobs. The current group is focusing on malware and forensics analysis. The program is part of the department’s attempts to boost its cyber workforce. Napolitano says DHS is also starting to act upon recommendations from a task force on cyber skills. (Homeland Security Department)

DoD Report

The Pentagon is helping states prepare for Hurricane Sandy. Secretary Leon Panetta has appointed “dual status” commanders to lead both federal and state National Guard forces in six states. The status lets them integrate defense support operations and capabilities that governors request. In addition, the Pentagon is letting FEMA stage response operations on DoD facilities. Northern Command has put helicopters and rescue teams on 24-hour status. The National Guard is making more than 61 thousand members available in affected states. They’ll help with search-and-rescue, carry people and cargo and support in other ways if necessary. (Defense Department)

The Navy is taking several steps to protect the fleet from Hurricane Sandy. In Hampton Roads, Virginia, ships in dock are dropping their anchors and adding mooring lines. Crews are disconnecting power lines and removing elevated bows. Ships at sea are staying there, maneuvering clear of the storm. Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of Fleet Forces Command, says he’s been watching the storm all night. Hampton Roads and Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story are operating under tropical cyclone conditions, as are installations at Norfolk, Virginia. The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry S. Truman is moving out to sea as a precaution. Staff at Andrews Air Force Base and Langley Air Force Base, and the Naval Submarine Base in New London, Connecticut were also prepared to move ships and aircraft if needed. (U.S. Navy)

The Navy has replaced the admiral in charge of an aircraft carrier group in the Middle East. Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette returns to Bremerton, Wash., home base of the U.S.S. John C Stennis. Gaouette faces an investigation over alleged inappropriate leadership judgment. The Navy is not saying exactly what Gaouette did. He has not been formally relieved of command. But he’s been replaced temporarily by Rear Adm.Troy Shoemaker. The Stennis left Bremerton in August. It arrived in the Navy Fifth Fleet’s area of operation earlier this month after crossing the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy)