Sen. Coburn: Obama's DHS Nominee Plagiarized 23 Times

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ranking member Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has found that President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ,Jeh Johnson, plagiarized 23 times in his written questionnaire provided to the committee before his confirmation hearing.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Coburn “said he was concerned that Johnson's written answers to customary prehearing questions used the same language in 23 instances as several other Obama administration nominees.”

"They're not your answers," Coburn said to Johnson at the hearing. "The point is to get your thoughts."

The AP added that “Coburn said he wouldn't consider the questionnaire complete until the committee received new answers to the questions.”

A document compiled by Coburn’s office details the 23 different instances in which Johnson allegedly plagiarized from other administration officials.

The first example, dealing with DHS “Efficiency Review,” found that Johnson cribbed language from the DHS Fiscal Year 2014 “Budget-in-Brief” published on Feb. 26 this year. 

On page 11 of his questionnaire, Johnson wrote:

The Department’s Efficiency Review program, which began in 2009, as well as other cost-saving initiatives, have allowed for the identification of more than $4 billion in cost avoidance and reductions. This funding has been redeployed to mission-critical initiatives across the Department

That language is nearly identical to language that appears on page 9 of the DHS budget document

Through the Department-wide, employee driven Efficiency Review (ER), which began in 2009, as well as other cost-saving initiatives, DHS has identified more than $4 billion in cost avoidances and reductions, and has redeployed those funds to mission-critical initiatives across the Department

Other examples from the document Coburn’s office compiled (all links and emphases in these examples per Coburn's office):

Quadrennial Homeland Security:

Johnson questionnaire – p. 16: “I imagine that, building on this foundation, the second QHSR should focus on how DHS, together with partners across the homeland security enterprise, will build smarter, more dynamic, risk-based approaches to homeland security that engage the broadest possible range of partners.”

HLSWatch.com, “DHS’ Alan Cohn talks about the 2014 QHSR,” June 19, 2013: “The second QHSR will build on this foundation and focus on how DHS will build smarter, more dynamic, risk-based approaches to homeland security that engage the broadest possible range of partners.”

FEMA example 1:

Johnson questionnaire– p. 18: “From what I understand, under Administrator Fugate’s leadership, FEMA has also made important reforms to its disaster workforce and instituted the FEMA Qualification System and Reservist program. FEMA additionally incorporated the DHS Surge Capacity Force into disaster response operations and, instituted the FEMACorps volunteer program, and established the Incident Management Assistance Teams Pilot Program – all of which are now assets that can be called on in disaster to support response efforts.”

Memorandum to all FEMA employees from FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, “Subj: FEMA Administrator’s Intent,” 2013: “ - Initiated reforms to our disaster workforce, instituting the FEMA Qualification System (FQS) and establishing the Reservists program, DHS Surge Force, FEMA Corps, and Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) Pilot Program.”

FEMA example 2:

Johnson questionnaire– p. 18: “Through these federal investments, grantees have developed significant capabilities at the state and local levels.”

FEMA Factsheet: National Preparedness Grant Program Vision Dialogue – March 2012: “Through these federal investments, grantees have developed significant capabilities at the local level to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters of all kinds.”

National Preparedness Grant Program:

Johnson questionnaire – p. 19: “As I understand it, the proposed NPGP would consolidate current state and local preparedness grant programs into one overarching program (excluding EMPG and Assistance to Firefighters Grants programs) by removing stovepipes, and encouraging collaboration among disciplines and across all levels of government.”

Testimony of FEMA’s Tim Manning Before HSGAC, June 25, 2013: “Specifically, the proposed NPGP would consolidate current State and local preparedness grant programs into one overarching program (excluding EMPG and Assistance to Firefighters Grants programs) to enable grantees to collaboratively build and sustain core capabilities towards achieving the National Preparedness Goal. By removing stovepipes, encouraging collaboration among disciplines and across levels of government, State and local governments would be able to collectively prioritize their needs and allocate increasingly scarce grant dollars where they would have the greatest impact.”

Intelligence & Analysis:

Johnson questionnaire – p. 23: “Additionally, if confirmed I will continue I&A efforts to build and sustain common DHS intelligence standards as well as build privacy and civil rights protections into its operations, policies, programs, and technology deployments from the outset of their development.”

DHS Press Release, “Secretary Napolitano Releases Report on DHS Progress Fulfilling 9/11 Commission Recommendations,” July 21, 2011: “DHS builds privacy and civil rights and civil liberties protections into its operations, policies, programs, and technology deployments from the outset of their development.”

Immigration Reform Oversight:

Johnson questionnaire – p 26: “If confirmed, I intend to quickly assess the capabilities of the existing oversight mechanisms. I will not hesitate to promote new or enhanced oversight mechanisms if I conclude they are necessary for this effort.

Mayorkas questionnaire: “If I am confirmed, I would assess the capabilities of the existing oversight mechanisms before recommending new or enhanced ones. I would not hesitate to make the recommendations that I thought necessary based upon thorough assessment.”

Immigration Reform Coordination:

Johnson questionnaire – p. 26: “Given the nature of the requirements of S. 744, I believe it will be vitally important to coordinate across the Department – and with other departments as necessary – to ensure that the legislation, if enacted, is implemented consistently, efficiently and effectively ... If I am confirmed as Secretary, I expect to be integrally involved in monitoring the components’ progress implementing the legislation."

Mayorkas questionnaire: “Given the cross-cutting nature of the Senate-passed legislation, I believe it will be vitally important to coordinate across the Department – and with other departments as necessary – to ensure that the legislation is implemented consistently, efficiently, and effectively ... I would expect that I would be integrally involved in monitoring the components’ progress implementing the legislation and resolving issues as they arise.”

Immigration Reform Mandates:

Johnson questionnaire – Nov. 5, 2013 – p. 26: “Some of the key undertakings by DHS would include, but are not limited to, acquiring the infrastructure, technology, and equipment necessary for the strategies called for in the bill; the establishment of the registered provisional immigrant status program; and, the implementation of the mandatory employment verification system


Implementation of S. 744 – particularly the reforms to the legal immigration system – will also require strong interagency coordination. If confirmed, I will ensure that DHS, both at the headquarters level and the component level, will be fully engaged to ensure that any comprehensive immigration reform legislation is successfully implemented if enacted.”


Mayorkas questionnaire: “Some of the key challenges would include hiring the additional border patrol personnel; acquiring the infrastructure, technology, and equipment necessary for the strategies called for in the bill; the establishment of the registered provisional immigrant status program; and, the implementation of both the mandatory employment verification system and an exit system in international airports. The Department’s leadership, both at the headquarters level and the component level, will be fully engaged to ensure that any comprehensive immigration reform legislation is successfully implemented if enacted.”

Border Security Investments example 1:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 29: “I understand that CBP and ICE continue to make significant investments in technology and infrastructure across South Texas and today, CBP has more than 6,000 Border Patrol agents in the region, an increase of more than 80 percent since 2004.”

Washington Post, quoting CBP spokesman Danny Tirado, June 18, 2013: “To address these changes, CBP continues to make significant investments in technology and infrastructure across south Texas and today, has more than 6,000 BP agents in the region, an increase of more than 80 percent since 2004.”

Border Security Investments example 2:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 29: “Significant border-wide investments in additional enforcement resources and enhanced operational tactics and strategy have enabled CBP to address the changing composition of attempted border crossers, and maintain border security.”

CBP press statement, March 2013: “Significant border-wide investments in additional enforcement resources and enhanced operational tactics and strategy have enabled CBP to address the changing composition of attempted border crossers, and maintain border security.”

Cybersecurity example 1:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 40: “The Department’s significant, ongoing contributions include: its operational responsibilities for securing unclassified federal civilian government networks and working with owners and operators of critical infrastructure to secure their networks through cyber threat analysis, risk assessment, mitigation, and incident response capabilities; coordination of the Federal Government response to significant cyber or physical incidents affecting critical infrastructure; . . .and combating cyber crime by leveraging the skills and resources of the USSS and ICE and working in cooperation with partner organizations to investigate cyber criminals.”

Written testimony of Acting Deputy Secretary Rand Beers before Senate Appropriations Committee, June 12, 2013: “DHS has operational responsibilities for securing unclassified federal civilian government networks and working with owners and operators of critical infrastructure to secure their networks through cyber threat analysis, risk assessment, mitigation, and incident response capabilities. The Department is also responsible for coordinating the Federal Government response to significant cyber or physical incidents affecting critical infrastructure consistent with Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 21. In addition, the Department combats cyber crime by leveraging the skills and resources of the USSS and ICE and working in cooperation with partner organizations to investigate cyber criminals.”

Cybersecurity example 2:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 40: “However, the effectiveness of these efforts is dependent upon collaboration with a variety of partners; most importantly, the owners and operators of the Nation’s critical infrastructure. DHS is continually working to improve its outreach to this important community, and have undertaken a number of steps to ensure that our stakeholders have meaningful input into our work. While implementation of EO 13686 and PPD-21 is a key step towards securing and making more resilient our Nation’s critical infrastructure, continued progress will require sustained effort by both public and private partners, and a recognition of the rapidly evolving risk environment. Though the private sector and government often have different calculations of risk, our continued partnership will enhance our mutual understanding of those calculations and allow us to work more closely and more effectively to protect and preserve the American way of life.”

Suzanne Spaulding questionnaire, Sept. 11, 2013: “However, the effectiveness of these efforts is dependent upon collaboration with a variety of partners; most importantly, the owners and operators of the Nation’s critical infrastructure. We are continually working to improve our outreach to this important community, and have undertaken a number of steps to ensure that our stakeholders have meaningful input into our work. While implementation of EO 13686 and PPD-21 is a key step towards securing and making more resilient our Nation’s critical infrastructure, continued progress will require sustained effort by both public and private partners, and a recognition of the rapidly evolving risk environment. Though the private sector and government often have different calculations of risk, our continued partnership will enhance our mutual understanding of those calculations and allow us to work more closely and more effectively to protect and preserve the American way of life.

Cybersecurity — CISCP:

Johnson questionnaire, pp. 41-42: “I will also work to provide timely and actionable information to inform those decisions and mitigate risk through programs such as the Cybersecurity and Information Sharing Program and Collaboration Program (CISCP) and the Enhanced Cybersecurity Service Program (ECS). I will continue to engage them in strengthening our public private partnership by participating in trusted communities to enhance collaboration and build shared threat knowledge.”

Spaulding questionnaire, Sept. 11, 2013: “...I will also work to provide timely and actionable information to inform those decisions and mitigate risk through programs such as the Cybersecurity and Information Sharing and CISCP and the ECS. Finally, I will continue to engage them in strengthening our public private partnership by participating in trusted communities to enhance collaboration and build shared threat knowledge.”

Cybersecurity example 3:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 44: “DHS directly supports federal civilian departments and agencies in developing capabilities that will improve their cybersecurity posture in accordance with FISMA.”

Written testimony of DHS Sec. Napolitano before HSGAC, Commerce Committees, March 7, 2013: “DHS directly supports federal civilian departments and agencies in developing capabilities that will improve their cybersecurity posture in accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).”

Cybersecurity example 4:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 44: “As the OIG noted in its report, DHS has continued to improve and strengthen its security program in Fiscal Year 2012. The DHS Fiscal Year 2013 Information Security Scorecard utilize continuous monitoring data feeds from Component tools to monitor the implementation of United States Government Configuration Baseline (USGCB) settings and security patching of databases and servers.”

Memorandum to DHS OIG in response to Draft Report 12-017-ITA-MGMT, Oct. 1, 2012: “We are pleased to note the OIG’s positive recognition that the Department continues to improve and strengthen its security program ... The DHS Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Information Security Scorecard will be utilizing continuous monitoring data feeds from Component tools to monitor the implementation of United States Government Configuration Baseline (USGCB) settings.”

Critical Infrastructure: 

Johnson questionnaire, p. 44: “Critical infrastructure is the backbone of our country’s national and economic security. In addition to the federal buildings where millions of Americans work and visit each day, it includes power plants, chemical facilities, communications networks, bridges, highways, and stadiums – facilities which by and large are in private sector hands."

Written testimony of Sec. Napolitano before HSGAC, March 7, 2013: “Critical infrastructure is the backbone of our country’s national and economic security. It includes power plants, chemical facilities, communications networks, bridges, highways, and stadiums, as well as the federal buildings where millions of Americans work and visit each day.

Cybersecurity Framework:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 45: “To that end, I understand DHS has drafted performance goals that are applicable to organizations adopting the Framework and are intended to encourage progress toward national-level outcomes achieved in part by widespread adoption of the Framework while stressing the importance of an enterprise risk management strategy that associates cybersecurity investments with enterprise business plans.”

DHS press release, Nov. 5, 2013: “The Performance Goals apply to organizations adopting the Framework, encourage progress toward national-level outcomes achieved in part by widespread adoption of the Framework, and emphasize the importance of an enterprise risk management strategy that associates cybersecurity investments with enterprise business plans.

Science and Technology:

Johnson questionnaire, p. 49: “DHS confronts a global landscape in which technology is both a key driver of evolving threats and an essential source of solutions to those threats. The breadth and diversity of DHS’s missions requires an organization like S&T to address a wide range of programs including the DHS components’ near-term needs for new operational capabilities and improved operational effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. S&T also has responsibilities related to understanding and creating solutions to biological and chemical threats, and to conducting the R&D required to meet homeland cybersecurity needs. S&T also manages national laboratories that provide unique homeland and national security capabilities and has direct access to the Department of Energy’s extensive national laboratory system. In addition, the Directorate’s capacity to engage R&D activities worldwide is greatly augmented by S&T’s university-based Centers of Excellence and bilateral international agreements. I recognize the importance of these missions.”

Testimony of S&T Undersecretary Dr. Tara O’Toole before HSGAC, July 2013: “DHS confronts a global landscape in which technology is both a key driver of evolving threats and an essential source of solutions to these threats ... The extraordinary breadth and diversity of DHS’s missions requires S&T to address a wide range of programs including DHS Components’ near-term needs for new operational capabilities and improved operational effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. S&T also has responsibilities related to understanding and creating solutions to biological and chemical threats, and to conducting the R&D required to meet homeland cybersecurity needs ... S&T also manages five national laboratories that provide unique homeland and national security capabilities and has direct access to the Department of Energy’s extensive national laboratory system. In addition, the Directorate’s capacity to engage R&D activities worldwide is greatly augmented by S&T’s nine university-based Centers of Excellence (COEs) and 13 bilateral international agreements.”

DNDO:

Johnson questionnaire – p. 48: “If confirmed as Secretary, I will encourage DNDO to continue working closely with industry, sharing technical requirements and advancements in research, and development projects that could potentially be integrated into next-generation systems.

Questions for the Record from Rep. Dan Lungren for Huban Gowadia, Deputy Director, DNDO, April 19, 2012 Hearing Record, Page 83: “DNDO will work with industry closely, and share technical requirements and advances in research and development projects that could potentially be integrated into next generation systems.”

BioWatch:

Johnson questionnaire – p. 49-50: “A key priority for DHS...The first indication that the Nation has been attacked may arise through early detection and advance warning systems, such as the BioWatch program, the only federally-managed, locally-operated nationwide early warning system designed to detect the release of select aerosolized biological agents.”

DHS.gov, Office of Health Affairs, Health Threats Resilience Division: “BioWatch is the only federally- managed, locally-operated nationwide bio-surveillance system designed to detect the intentional release of select aerosolized biological agents.”

Reports to Congress:

Johnson questionnaire –p. 53: “It appears from the provided language that section 574 applies to reports that the Secretary must submit. As a general matter, it seems that congressional committees with jurisdiction should have access to reports that Congress has instructed the Department to write. I am not familiar with the past history and practice associated with the subject of this provision, but would review the Department’s interpretation of this provision if confirmed.”

Bunnell questionnaire: “It appears clear from the provided language that section 574 applies to reports that the Secretary must submit. As a general matter, it seems that congressional committees with jurisdiction should have access to reports that Congress has instructed the Department to write. I am not familiar with the past history and practice associated with the subject of this provision, but would review the Department’s interpretation of this provision if confirmed.”

Privacy:

Johnson questionnaire – p. 51: “I understand that DHS uses the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs), a widely accepted framework that is at the core of the Privacy Act of 1974 and is mirrored in the laws of many states, as well as many foreign nations and international organizations, to assess and evaluate the impacts of programs, systems, and initiatives on individuals’ privacy.”

Memo from DHS Chief Privacy Officer Hugo Teufel III, Dec. 29, 2008: “The FIPPs are a widely accepted framework that is at the core of the Privacy Act of 1974 and is mirrored in the laws of many U.S. states, as well as many foreign nations and international organizations.


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