Homeland watch: In brief

'Public scorecards' coming

Anyone who has viewed the Homeland Security Department's complex "Interoperability Continuum," self-assessment tool for cities, and wondered in vain how his or her city scored, may be pleased to hear that progress reports soon will become public.

Secretary Michael Chertoff promised May 8 that each major urban area would get a "public scorecard" on its emergency communications interoperability that will identify gaps that need to be closed.

"The purpose of this is not to penalize people," Chertoff said.

"The purpose of this is to be honest about what we've achieved [and] what we still need to achieve, so that we can focus on the gaps that remain and get about the business of fixing those gaps."

Chertoff also said the National Interoperability Baseline Survey is set to be distributed to 23,000 state and local agencies in two weeks.

Drop them a line

DHS and the Defense Department's Northern Command are ready to set up 18 self-powered cell phone towers and distribute between 200 and 500 cell phones to first responders and incident commanders following a major disaster, according to testimony from Northcom commander Adm. Timothy Keating at a May 3 congressional hearing.

In addition, Northcom has 50 to 100 satellite phones to be made available post-disaster, he said.

Party animals unite

Washington's gossipy bloggers are busy keeping track of which members of Congress and other high-level officials attended which possibly controversial social events.

Federal contractors are popping up in the party reports as well.

Under scrutiny are events allegedly hosted by federal contractors involved in the bribery scandal surrounding former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.). Some of those events allegedly involved prostitutes.

Other stories are circulating about social events allegedly sponsored by Daon, an Irish biometric firm, which reportedly signed a sole-source contract for a major DHS identification card program.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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