Washington Weekly – October 17, 2014

October 17, 2014

Both the House and Senate were in recess this week. 

Consumer Financial Transaction Security

President Obama signed a new Executive Order today directing the federal government to adopt more secure financial transaction tools. The BuySecure Initiative will apply chip and PIN technology to newly issued and existing government credit cards, as well as Federal debit cards like SmartPay and Direct Express. The initiative will also upgrade retail payment card terminals at Federal agency facilities such as passport offices, VA canteens, and national parks so that they can accept chip and PIN-enabled cards.

Home Depot, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart were part of the President’s announcement today as all four retailers also agreed to upgrade all of their card terminals in their stores to chip and PIN-enabled. In addition, American Express will start a new program in January 2015 that will support small businesses upgrading their point of sale terminals and Visa will launch a public service campaign in 20 cities to educate consumers and merchants on chip and other secure technologies.

The Administration also announced a new effort to assist victims of identity theft. The Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, and Social Security Administration are working to make the fraud reporting process as easy as possible for Americans who have experienced credit card fraud. Their goal is to, within two years, reduce by half the amount of time it takes consumers to remediate the average case of identity theft. Today’s executive order will also support the Federal Trade Commission in their development of a new one-stop resource for victims of identity theft. IdentityTheft.gov. will streamline the reporting and remediation process with credit bureaus providing a portal that helps digitally submit reports of fraud to multiple credit bureaus.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working with leaders in the financial services industry to make credit scores more readily available to all Americans as shifts in credit scores can be a key first sign of identity theft. Beginning in January, Citi in partnership with FICO will make free credit scores available to their customers. This announcement builds on work done by institutions like Discover, Barclaycard, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and First National Bank of Omaha who have implemented similar systems. And by the end of the year, MasterCard will offer all its card holders free, 24/7 identity theft resolution support and online identity theft monitoring services.

The Administration is also requiring all federal government agencies to ensure that personal data released by the government to citizens goes through multiple tests for authentication before being released.

In addition, the White House will host a Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection later this year to promote partnership and innovation. The Summit will bring together major stakeholders on consumer financial protection issues to discuss how all members of the financial system can work together to further protect American consumers and their financial data, now and in the future.

Finally, the President called on Congress to enact cybersecurity legislation and data breach legislation.

The White House announcement can be found at:


And a copy of the Executive Order can be found at:


Border Security

Last week House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) released a proposal to secure the border entitled “Blueprint for Southern Border Security.” The proposal maps out sector-by-sector recommendations on resource allocation and capability improvements to achieve full situational awareness of the border. In addition to gaining situational awareness, the proposal also calls for:

  • Developing outcome-based means to measure border security,
  • Bolstering interior enforcement by enforcing strong penalties,
  • Increasing coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement efforts,
  • Creating a new command and control structure, and
  • Engaging with international partners to strengthen partnerships for mutual security.

House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) recently said that he believes that immigration reform would help the economy, but that we’ve got to secure the border first, which is the focus of McCaul’s blueprint. The White House had said it would move on its own on immigration reform by the end of the year (but after the elections) and may provide undocumented immigrants with a legal way to earn citizenship. Speaker Boehner and House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) warned that any unilateral moves from President Obama will “inject serious constitutional questions” into the broader immigration debate.

A copy of the blueprint can be found at:


Department of Defense Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined the effects of climate change on the world’s security environment at the Conference of Defense Ministers in Peru this week. Hagel also unveiled the Department’s Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap and Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan to meet those challenges. Hagel said that, “Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict,” and that “they will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe.” The military could be called upon to provide humanitarian and disaster relief for these potentially more frequent and more intense natural disasters. The Department has established three broad adaptation goals:

Goal 1: Identify and assess the effects of climate change on the Department.

Goal 2: Integrate climate change considerations across the Department and manage associated risks.

Goal 3: Collaborate with internal and external stakeholders on climate change challenges.

These goals are supported by four lines of effort:

  1. Plans and Operations include the activities dedicated to preparing for and carrying out the full range of military operations. Also included are the operating environments in the air, on land, and at sea, at home and abroad, that shape the development of plans and execution of operations.
  2. Training and Testing are critical to maintaining a capable and ready Force in the face of a rapidly changing strategic setting. Access to land, air, and sea space that replicate the operational environment for training and testing is essential to readiness.
  3. Built and Natural Infrastructure are both necessary for successful mission preparedness and readiness. While built infrastructure serves as the staging platform for the Department’s national defense and humanitarian missions, natural infrastructure also supports military combat readiness by providing realistic combat conditions and vital resources to personnel.
  4. Acquisition and Supply Chain include the full range of developing, acquiring, fielding, and sustaining equipment and services and leveraging technologies and capabilities to meet the Department’s current and future needs, including requirements analysis.

DoD’s first step in planning is to identify the effects of climate change on DoD with tangible and specific metrics. DoD has almost completed a baseline survey assessing the vulnerability of their more than 7000 bases, installations, and other facilities. Drawing on these assessments, officials are integrating climate change considerations into plans, operations and training across the Defense Department to enable managing associated risks. They are also working with other nations to share tools for assessing and managing climate change impacts. The Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) is the Department’s Climate Change Adaptation Planning Officer and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of this plan.

A copy of the roadmap can be found at:


Political Updates

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced this week the panelists who will serve on DHS’ independent review of the US Secret Service. The panelists are former Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, former Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip, former Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to the President Danielle Gray, and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joseph Hagin. The panel is tasked with submitting an assessment and recommendations concerning security of the White House and recommendations for potential new directors of the Secret Service by December 15. Sec. Johnson also asked the panel to advise him on whether there should be a broader review of issues concerning the Secret Service.

TSA Administrator John Pistole will retire at the end of this year after more than 31 years in the federal government. Pistole was the Deputy Director of the FBI before joining TSA four years ago. He has been nominated to become the president of Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana.

President Barack Obama has chosen Ron Klain to serve as the administration’s Ebola “czar,” responsible for the “whole of government Ebola response.” Klain will report directly to Obama’s Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Klain was chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden from 2009 to 2011 and also served in the same position under Vice President Al Gore. He was also a key member of the team that helped Obama prepare for presidential debates. He is currently president of Case Holdings, former AOL chairman Steve Case’s holding company, and general counsel of investment firm Revolution.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced this week that he will resign his position as soon as a replacement is confirmed. With Attorney General Eric Holder also on the way out, the top two positions at the Department of Justice will be vacant. Holder is also remaining on board until his replacement is confirmed. Senate Democrats may feel some pressure to confirm both jobs in the lame duck session if they lose control of the Senate in the elections.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until November 12.

Comments are closed.