News

Power outages longer each year for customers, linked to severe weather, new study finds

While the frequency of U.S. power outages has been unchanged in recent years, the total number of minutes that customers have been without electricity has increased every year, mainly due to extreme weather.

Globally, July was hottest July in 136 years; first 7 months of 2015 also hits record, NOAA says

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces was 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the previous record set in 1998. It was also 1.46 F higher than the 20th century average of 60.4 F.

Senators urge TSA to implement mandated rail security measures after European attack

Sens. Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut and Cory Booker from New Jersey said in a recent letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger that "action on congressional mandates has languished for far too long."

DHS revising grant guidance to mandate communications equipment be interoperable

The inspector general said in a audit that grant guidance issued by the Office of Emergency Communications and the Federal Emergency Management Agency "does not prevent grantees from purchasing non-interoperable equipment."

Contributions, reporting 'sporadic' in first year of broad coalition effort to fight the Islamic State

Almost one year ago, President Obama announced some 60 nations and partner organizations formed a coalition to "degrade and ultimately defeat" the Islamic State. But the Congressional Research Service pointed out in a new report that members' contributions have varied widely and fewer than half are active in the military effort against the terrorist group.

Global warming intensifying California drought that will become permanent by 2060s, study says

Global warming is worsening California's drought – already in its fourth year – by as much as 27 percent because higher temperatures are evaporating more moisture from plants and soil, according to the recently published study.

DHS IG: FEMA regional office not meeting certain emergency management responsibilities

Region V – which manages emergency management activities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio – does not have policies and procedures to provide temporary public transportation during disasters, process public assistance appeals in a timely manner, and doesn't hold required meetings regarding regional issues.

Steps taken to improve DHS conference expense reporting after agency watchdog finds problems

From fiscal 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, Homeland Security Department officials disclosed expenses for only 15 percent of the 187 hosted conferences they were required to report to the department's inspector general.

TSA workers' comp program continues to concern auditors, despite improvements

The Transportation Security Administration has taken several key steps over the last eight years to better manage workers' compensation claims, but a new audit finds a few more concerns, including duplicate case management systems and potential for higher agency chargeback costs.

Mimicking nature, device uses soundwaves to detect cracks in critical infrastructure

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow have developed a device that spots structural problems in aircraft structures, oil and gas pipelines and nuclear plants.

National Seed Strategy unveiled to restore lands damaged by wildfires, invasive species, other threats

In 2012, more than 2 million acres of sagebrush habitat burned across four western states. Officials said this environment is worsening due to wildfires and droughts. In the east that same year, Hurricane Sandy damaged native plant habitats, which stabilize soils, filter water and absorb storm surges, the release said.

Immigration officials not doing enough to assess fraud in foreign investor visa program, GAO says

Federal immigration officials aren't doing enough to identify and address unique fraud and national security risks in an immigrant visa program that encourages foreign individuals to make capital investments and create jobs in the U.S. in exchange for a green card and path to citizenship, congressional investigators said in a recent report.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reemerges after nearly a year of silence

Al-Zawahiri was tapped by Osama bin Laden to lead the terrorist group, but Brooking Institution's Bruce Riedel notes "he is a poor speaker, prone to ideological fights and lacks bin Laden's charisma."

USGS study: Nearly half of US population exposed to potentially damaging earthquakes

Of the 143 million Americans, 28 million people live in places with a "high potential" to experience shaking while 57 million people live in areas with a moderate chance of shaking. The difference from moderate to strong shaking depends on location of fault lines and frequency of seismic activity in an area.

DHS secretary seeks to form new panel to advise department on leading cybersecurity practices

The subcommittee will "identify the readiness of the department's lifeline sectors to meet the emerging cyber threat and provide recommendations for building cross-sector capabilities to rapidly restore critical functions and services following a signficant cyber event," according to a Federal Register notice.

New study says toxic blue-green algae blooms are major risk to recreational and drinking water

Scientists from Oregon State University and University of North Carolina said that the algae, known as cyanobacteria, are also poorly monitored. State and federal regulators don't require testing for the algal blooms nor is reporting required of diseases related to it, they said.

US immigration officials didn't 'deliberately violate' court injunction, DHS IG concludes

The DHS inspector general said it "found no evidence that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services deliberately violated" U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen's preliminary injunction, preventing the implementation of a series of executive actions that President Obama announced in November 2014 that was aimed at expanding certain immigration programs.

FCC adopts rules requiring emergency backup power for modern telephone service

Unlike traditional copper-based landline service, which works during electric outages because the service provide its own power, fiber and Internet Protocol-based phone services need power to work.

DHS audit finds weak oversight and compliance with travel and purchase card programs

The inspector general said the Homeland Security Department needs greater oversight over both programs to ensure that cardholders comply with procedures and to better detect improper use since the department conducts a large volume of business every year.

In-depth study finds worldwide forest vulnerability to climate change underestimated

Forests worldwide are at greater risk from hotter drought as a result of global warming, greatly altering their size and scope and potentially providing fewer goods and services for communities, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Arizona, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.