Morning Security Brief: Whistleblower Report, Immigration Enforcement, Background Checks, and More
A Labor Department Inspector General report finds that OSHA's whistleblower protection program falls far short of its goals, failing its own standard in 80% of cases. DHS reports recordbreaking immigration enforcement. HHS announces grants to states to develop programs for background checks for job candidates at elder-care facilities to curb patient abuse. And the GAO gives the Obama Administration a decent grade on cybersecurity progress report, but raises concerns about reaching ultimate goals.
►The Government Accountability Project (GAP) reports on Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) dismal record of handling whistleblower complaints --based on the safety agency's own internal findings. For example, "80% of whistleblower investigations flunked one or more standards in the OSHA’s own Whistleblower Investigations Manual," according to the Labor Department's Office of Inspector General findings , GAP reports. Other failings: no supervisors had completed required whistleblower investigation training courses and nearly half of the case investigations involved no face-to-face interviews. OSHA responded to the OIG findings in the report, noting that it was in the process of developing its Fiscal Year 2011 strategic plan, including the development of whistleblower program performance measures.
► The Department of Homeland Security has reported recordbreaking immigration enforcement actions . "In fiscal year 2010, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) set a record for overall removals of illegal aliens, with more than 392,000 removals nationwide," the agency reports. "Half of those removed—more than 195,000—were convicted criminals." In addition, "DHS has also expanded the Secure Communities initiative—which uses biometric information and services to identify and remove criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails.... [The agency is] on track to expand this program to all law enforcement jurisdictions nationwide by 2013."
► In an effort to eliminate patient abuse incidents that have plagued state-run elder-care facilities, the first round of grants to states has been announced--$13 million to six states. The grants are to be used to set up background screening programs to improve selection of workers who will work directly with patients. "Created by the Affordable Care Act, the new National Background Check Program will help identify “best practices” for long-term care providers to determine whether a job seeker has any kind of criminal history or other disqualifying information that could make him or her unsuitable to work directly with residents," states the HHS press release.
► The Obama Administration has at least partially implemented 22 of the 24 recommendations for cyber policy review, and it has fully completed two, finds the latest Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on government cybersecurity. The report on Cyberspace Policy found, however, that "16 of the 22 near- and mid-term recommendations did not have milestones and plans for [full] implementation." That led the GAO to conclude that despite progress, there is "increased risk the recommendations will not be successfully completed" unless clear roles, responsibilities, and schedules are specified.