Federal Drive interviews – Nov. 16

Howard KunreutherJames G. Dinan Professor, Professor of Decision Sciences and Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School, and co-director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center

As the East Coast wades through the recovery process of Hurricane Sandy the number of National Flood Insurance Program claims continues to rise. Private insurance companies make money off the program, but taxpayers are likely to pick up the slack when claims surpass premiums. The New York Times reports the program is in even bigger trouble going forward… because some communities have failed to adopt building codes to prevent damage. Howard Kunreuther is co-director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Process Center at the University of Pennsylvania. They analyzed two decades of claims and he joins us now to tell us what they found.

Jamie BarnettSenior Vice President of National Security Policy at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

President Obama signed a secret directive allowing the military to hit back against cyber attackers. And with cybersecurity legislation floundering in Congress, he may soon issue a more comprehensive executive order.


Fred P. HochbergChairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States

New figures show one agency had a banner year. The Export-Import Bank, which lends money to American companies that do business abroad, had a record number of transactions in fiscal 2012. That’s for reasons both good and bad.

Export-Import Bank gives while other agencies take

Carl DavisRegional Archaeologist, U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Region

Wilderness in the United States is studded with historic artifacts. And it’s up to the Forest Service, part of the Agriculture Department, to preserve them. It must do a good job. The Northern Region of the Forest Service has won an award for a program called Heritage Stewardship Enhancement. That award came from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.


DoD Report

The Pentagon’s pick to lead troops in Afghanistan says he hasn’t been included in conversations about the military’s future in that country. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford says he has an understanding of the framework and the variables that should be considered. He testified yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. If confirmed, he hinted that he would push for a long-term commitment to Afghanistan even as he oversees the withdrawal of most U.S. troops. The Senate is putting off a confirmation vote as the Pentagon investigates the current commander in Afghanistan. Defense officials say Gen. John Allen will stay where he is until that investigation is complete. Allen is in line to lead forces in Europe, but is mired in the scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus. (Defense Department)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review military ethics training. And he wants them to figure out ways to keep officers out of trouble. Panetta cites a string of embarrassing ethical lapses by high level officers. Earlier this week, Panetta demoted a four-star general to three stars for abuse of travel funds. But Panetta’s memo didn’t specifically cite Marine General John Allen. He’s under investigation for an e-mail relationship he had with a socialite. Nor did it mention retired Army General David Petraeus, who had to quit his job as CIA director after a secret love affair came to light. (Associated Press)

Cybersecurity Update

Senate cybersecurity legislation is not quite dead yet. Republican Mitch McConnell says he plans to bring the Cybersecurity Act of 20-=12 back up for consideration with amendments. He just wants to wait until after the Senate completes work on Defense and Intelligence authorization bills. McConnell’s move comes a day after Majority Leader Harry Reid pronounced the bill dead. McConnell and other Republicans want to add amendments to harmonize it with a competing bill they’ve introduced. The two sides disagree on how much regulatory authority the Homeland Security Department should have. (Federal News Radio)

A newly released report says the electric power grid is “inherently vulnerable” to terrorist attacks. Hackers can penetrate networks through communications, sensors and controls. Federal agencies should assess weaknesse in several parts of the country…then issue guidelines for local authorities. Sounds urgent? The report is actually five years old. The National Research Council did it on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. But DHS classified the entire thing. The council appealed. It says ‘openness is required to accelerate progress’ on technology developments. It says the findings remain highly relevant, but they need to be updated. (National Research Council)

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