Thursday, January 29, 2015

Natural Disasters Defined

What qualifies as a natural disaster?Many of you know what a disaster is. But, do you really know what qualifies as an actual disaster? Disasters include everything from terrorist attacks to traffic accidents, floods to fires. The key to navigating a disaster (with as little loss possible) is to be prepared. Being prepared means having a plan in place for your home, family, business (employment), and your pets.

I know this seems to be common sense, but in a time of crisis simple things can become overlooked.
For pets make sure you have proper identification and that the animal is actually wearing it! Invest in good transport kennels before a disaster hits. Keep a stock pile for extra food and gallons of clean water.

If your pets take medication, keep a spare prescription in an emergency kit. If you have a diabetic pet make sure to discuss a pre-disaster plan with your vet at the next appointment.

Never ever evacuate a home or business and leave a pet behind. If you are told to evacuate, leave early and take the animals with you, even if you think you'll be gone just a few hours. It is a good idea to Google in a list of hotels that take animals in your area and two hours outside of your area. Jot down the phone numbers and put them in your wallet. Even if you put the numbers in your phone, keep a copy in your wallet because the disaster could interrupt cell phone service.

Until tomorrow,
Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Handle A Crisis

Last year I wrote a blog on who handles different areas of government in direct relation to potential terrorist activity. It is always good to understand what will happen should a crisis occur. Well, in light of the blizzard that just passed by the USA, I thought it was important for me to restate this information. As you know the Department of Homeland Security oversees all types of disasters, like weather-related events. So, if you need to, print out this blog and keep it near your desk or in your wallet. That way, in a time of crisis, you know who is in charge of what and you can better navigate the services you need.

Mayor
The mayor is responsible at the administrative level for the smooth running of the response effort.

Fire service
The fire service is the linchpin in disaster response. The fire chief is charged with the operational management of the response effort. Everything that occurs in the disaster area falls under his/her authority.

Regional accident and disaster medical teams
Anyone injured in a disaster will require medical assistance as soon as possible.

Police
The police will ensure that the fire and ambulance services can do their job. They will cordon off the disaster area, manage the traffic, and sometimes set up a safety zone around the disaster area.

Army
The Ministry of Defence can deploy military personnel to respond to a disaster.

Municipal services
Behind the scenes, several municipal services play an important role in disaster response, especially when it comes to the after-effects.

Other services
Which services take part in the response effort will depend on the type of disaster. In the case of flooding caused by burst dykes or heavy rainfall, the water authorities will play a role. If a disaster occurs off the coast, the Coastguard will be involved. But other services will also often take part. The Red Cross cares for the injured in disasters.

Until tomorrow,
Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

For tonight and tomorrow....

Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. While my family has no personal ties to this tragic event, I feel it is best that I honor those who passed and those who made it out alive. We should always remember history for what it is, good or bad, so we can move forward.


If you want more information, please click here:
http://auschwitz.org/

Twyla Garrett

Monday, January 26, 2015

Setting Up Your Homeland Security Company

How you define your business to the government can have a lot of benefits. However, it can also lead to a lot of headaches if done incorrectly. So what type of status should you claim when starting a business? Well, let me help!

Sole Proprietorship: This type of business does not make a legal distinction between the business owner and the business itself. Although costs can be low (from taxes to licensing fees)the down-side is that you will be personally responsible for any business debt that may occurs, potential law suits, and your personal income tax reflects your entire business' profit.

A General Partnership is the same as a sole proprietorship but with several owners. Again, the set-up costs are low and there are relatively few regulatory requirements. And, again, the owners are completely liable for all the actions and debts that stem from the business.

Limited Liability Partnership(much like a LLC) is very similar to a general partnership. However, there is a separate classification of partners making each person's liability limited. The downside to this classification is it only "limits" a partner's liability, not erase it completely- which is a common myth. Also the filing and administrative requirements are complex.

C-Corporation is only a form of doing business that creates a separate legal entity from the individual owners. This legal entity can act and do business on its own just as a person would do (i.e. borrow money, enter into lawsuits and contracts, etc.).
With a C-Corporation your "owners" are now shareholders who are not personally liable for the actions and debts stemming from the company. However, if a shareholder wants to leave the business then the paperwork involved isn't easy, making a separation a long-one- which in the case of a nasty separation only makes the situation worse. Also, owners (shareholders) are taxed twice.

S-Corporation is a type of corporation but the business is taxed as if it is a sole proprietorship. Its formation is subject to certain legal criteria such as a maximum number of shareholders. The benefits, unlike a C-Corp., include owners only being taxed one time. However, the administrative costs are higher and all owners (shareholders) have to be U.S. citizens.

Many business owners either chose to set-up as an LLC or an S-Corp. Note, I will not advocate for either because you need to discuss your personal situation with a lawyer and a CPA. However, I will state that an LLC may have to pay more self-employment taxes than S-corps due to IRS regulations.

Have other business questions? Please ask as I am happy to answer them!

Twyla

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Office Politics Often Play Into the Security Business

Some people swear office politics are just a fact of life. Well, that isn't really true. In fact, office politics have brought our country to a standstill. So, how do you know when office politics and the game playing are falling on your shoulders? Well, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer "yes" to more than one- you're playing the game and it is time for things to change.

Does your company lack in vision? In other words, are your making a profit without really knowing where you are going or why?

Forget team meetings, do you hold a lot of one-on-one meetings?

Do you speak of others more than you speak to them?

Are you constantly questioning your employees and/or peers and their motivation for everything they do?

Do you get what you want from people by manipulating them opposed to just asking them to do something for you?

Are you not involved within your organization on a personal level? I mean, do you have your assistants send emails on your behalf, call people on your behalf - perhaps even sign the holiday cards?

You can "undo" office politics- but it is going to take work. If you answered yes to more than one question- shoot me an email and let's talk! If I get enough responses, I may hold a free webinar on undoing office politics.

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Positive Security Services..... Yes, It's Possible

People ask my all the time about business. After all, it is what I do best. I've been invited to The White House to talk about it. I've self-funded a million dollar project. I've failed and succeeded many times over. So what is the key?

DON'T BE POSITIVE!

Did I not sugar coat the truth just then? Well, i'm not sorry. People in business tend to see failure and make excuses for it. Don't. Accept the failure and either make improvements or make an exit strategy. Don't be blind and go down with the ship. There is no honor in it. There is honor in moving on or moving up- well, they really can be the same thing.

Have a sales person who isn't pulling his/her weight? Don't feel bad, feel lucky. Catch the problem and find a better sales person. Don't make excuses and try to remain positive. If sales have been lagging then the sales person isn't the right person for that job. Being too positive can hurt you in business. Be a realist. Be productive. Be honest with yourself and your employees!

Now, go be successful!

Twyla

Thursday, January 15, 2015

#TBT Topic Revisit... Disconnect and the DHS

One of the major issues I discuss in my up and coming Homeland Security book is the topic of information disconnect. One of the largest issues I see happening over and over again is a serious disconnect in the flow of information from some states to their local emergency responder organizations. And this isn't a political beef (for the most part) either... it is a financial crisis.
The lack of communication and information can be identified by a lack of funding, which is and isn't preventable. Below are the issues as to why.

Issue #1. Emergency management training sessions are either federally-sponsored or tuition-free. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Many states and municipal agencies will not participate in these programs because it costs money to allow the staff person taking the training time off. Yes, having to pay for PTO and then a placement person to assume the job duties of trainee during his or her absence is a major challenge. There are funds to help cover these costs, you just have to know where and when to look. If you don't know about these funds, you don't seek them out and then training sessions are missed.

Issue #2. This broken link: https://www.firstrespondertraining.gov/content.do?page=pageMoved. Yes, have you even decided to take up a course or seek out help only to land on a broken link. Why bother searching for the new page, right? Well, broken links to federal training programs are really preventing the flow of information and other homeland security training issues. How do you overcome this? I know it is annoying, but you will have to play detective and track down the right information and find key links. Don't give up when you arrive on the broken page. BTW- here is the PROPER link (yes, I played detective) for the training programs: http://training.fema.gov/

My point is there always will be challenges. Don't think you can't change things. Seek out information, seek out resources and don't get stumped by broken links. You have to be proactive the be preventive!

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Work & Bomb Concerns

With the recent events in France (and around the world) would you know how to handle a bomb scare at work? Many people don't know what to do or how to react. The topic is so uncomfortable that many don't even want to think about it. Well, let me give you the basics. The best defense is an offense, which means thinking about the uncomfortable and knowing how to handle it.

1. First, if you take the call / threat - call 9-1-1- and then notify your boss.
2. Stay away from any specific area or packages. If a caller notes a certain part of a building on the phone, evacuate that area first.
3. Don't bother the first responders. They will provide information on an "as needed" basis. Make sure you give them all the details of the call or received threat and then take care of yourself and your employees. Don't ask questions or pull people away from their jobs.
4. Don't panic. This is easier said than done, but it is important to remain as calm as possible.

I know it is Friday. I know this topic isn't the easiest and by no means are these four steps (above) meant to cover every aspect of a bomb threat. But, if you can remember these basics, you are a lot better off than the people who don't even want to think about this possibility.

Here's a free checklist in the meantime: http://emilms.fema.gov/is906/assets/ocso-bomb_threat_samepage-brochure.pdf

Until tomorrow,
Twyla N. Garrett of HireIMe.com

Monday, January 12, 2015

Can You Make it In the Homeland Security Business?

Do you have what it takes to own a security services business? I'm not talking money or ideas. I'm talking grit and getting your hands dirty. Not sure if you have what it takes? Take my test. Answer yes or no if you agree or disagree with each statement below and see what I have to say at the end.

1. You believe you can balance work with a personal life.

2.'Fake It To You Make It' is the best advice you ever received.

3. You can't wait to be rich, which will be soon since all business owners have tons of money.

4. You can have a day job and run a business at the same time.

5. There is nothing to fear about employing other people. It is great to have people work for you.

6. You're going to be loved by everyone because you have a business and your business will take off right away.

7. You believe a mentor is important.

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you don't have what it takes to be a business owner. The above statements are all myths and some of the most popular reasons why businesses fail. Grand ideas, assuming riches will happen overnight, faking knowing how to provide a service or products, etc. are all big red flags in the business world.

If you answered "no" to any or all of the questions above, pat yourself on the back! You're a true entrepreneur.

Twyla

Friday, January 9, 2015

Is Your Website Protected?

I want to talk about a report recently on Forbes.com related to Cyber Security. The report stated "the DHS has its own set of cyber vulnerabilities." Yes, according to a full report by the Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security suffers from cyber security issues. So, if the DHS is exposed enough to cyber criminal activity, how do you protect your own agency or business?

Here's a list from the DHS' own website noting how to protect yourself from a cyber attack. http://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/protect-myself-cyber-attacks However, there is no 100% bullet-proof vest for your computer system to wear- as the DHS itself will admit.

I decided to expand upon a few of these topics. For example, one tip is to NEVER click on links sent in random emails. Well, this is pretty obvious. However, you don't have to receive random emails in the first place. You can set up personal and professional accounts to not accept emails sent from people other than those on an approved list.

You should be more concerned with malware than emailed links, too. Accrding to the DHS, "Destructive malware has the capability to target a large scope of systems, and can potentially execute across multiple systems throughout a network. As a result, it is important for an organization to assess their environment for atypical channels for potential malware delivery and/or propagation throughout their systems. Systems to assess include:

Enterprise Applications – particularly those which have the capability to directly interface with and impact multiple hosts and endpoints. Common examples include
Patch Management Systems,
Asset Management Systems,
Remote Assistance software (typically utilized by the corporate Help Desk),
Anti-Virus,
Systems assigned to system and network administrative personnel,
Centralized Backup Servers, and
Centralized File Shares."

My company, IME, can help you take a comprehensive look at your current cyber setup and possible issues. We can help rectify many issues, too. Will you be 100% safe and secure? No- that's impossible. Even the DHS has private waves of computing that are hackable. However, you will be more prepared to prevent and respond to cyber security attacks and threats.

Until Monday,
Twyla

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Defining Disaster w/ Pets

Many of you know what a disaster is. But, do you really know what qualifies as an actual disaster? Disasters include everything from terrorist attacks to traffic accidents, floods to fires. The key to navigating a disaster (with as little loss possible) is to be prepared. Being prepared means having a plan in place for your home, family, business (employment), and your pets.

I know this seems to be common sense, but in a time of crisis simple things can become overlooked.
For pets make sure you have proper identification and that the animal is actually wearing it! Invest in good transport kennels before a disaster hits. Keep a stock pile for extra food and gallons of clean water. If your pets take medication, keep a spare prescription in an emergency kit. If you have a diabetic pet make sure to discuss a pre-disaster plan with your vet at the next appointment.

Never ever evacuate a home or business and leave a pet behind. If you are told to evacuate, leave early and take the animals with you, even if you think you'll be gone just a few hours. It is a good idea to Google in a list of hotels that take animals in your area and two hours outside of your area. Jot down the phone numbers and put them in your wallet. Even if you put the numbers in your phone, keep a copy in your wallet because the disaster could interrupt cell phone service.

In today's world, it is hard to not think about these terrible topics- but it is a reality that we have to live in. We often make plans for ourselves and forget to make a plan for out pets or those we are caring for who are elderly or sick. Take some time today to do this for yourself and others.

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Working with Uncle Sam!

Ever wonder how hard it is (or easy) to get a government contract? Let me provide you with the tips to obtain (and maintain) the government's business!

First off, visit https://www.fbo.gov/ because there are usually (on average) 25,000+ contracts available at any given time. Know what is available and what you (or your company) or truly qualified to bid on.

Next, don't dismiss the 25,000+ contracts as reserved for major players. The government sets aside contracts for small businesses, women owned businesses, minor owned businesses, etc. Basically, you are set up to fairly compete with the big boys!

Consider subcontracted work. A good way to get your foot in the door is to perform subcontracted work through a provider that already has a government contract. Who has the current contracts you ask? Click here! https://www.supplier-connection.net/SupplierConnection/index.html

Lastly, understand that paperwork is the major part of the process. And, there is a lot of paperwork! Start with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) http://www.osdbu.dot.gov/related/ccr.cfm . In order to do business with the govermennt (and start the paperwork for consideration) you must be registered with the CCR. Bonus: The CCT lets you review what companies are retaining contracts and how. It can help you become more competitive with your bids!

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Drones Are Everywhere!!

Drones are a hot topic, duh! What I should say is that we can't escape the conversation of drones on a daily basis. The media is covering the topic and even Kendra Baskett (Kendra On Top) talks drones on an episode of her reality TV show. So, how are drones benefiting us as a nation? With 7,000 miles of U.S. land to patrol increasingly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is relying on drones to help arrest illegal immigrants. That is one immediate benefit. Helping prevent terrorism from overseas is another way they could potentially help too.

Drones are causing a lot of controversy because the public believes they can, possibly and at times, violate privacy. And, drones are expensive. About $62 million dollars a year expensive! With only about 2k in arrests related to the use of drones last year, the $27k per arrest price tag doesn't seem to justify the use of drones within the country. These math figures alone are making the media even more eager to cover the topic.

Over the last ten years, the Department of Homeland Security's unmanned "Eye in the Sky" program has cost nearly $500 million and it's getting an additional $443 million in funding over the next few years. In fact, the DHS expected 23,000 total flight hours per year with this program in the past, but it has only logged about 5,100 in total so far. The DHS has claimed that the drones would operate along the entire southwest border, but according to the Inspector General, they did not. Armed predator drones have been used on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I don't think we have enough information right now to say if the program and drones are truly worth (or not worth) the expense. I do know that the amount of drug captures have been worth it. Hundreds of millions of dollars in cocaine have been taken off of US streets thanks to drones but somehow the media has failed to cover this. Like any new program or technology, improvements can and should be made. What I think the media is failing to cover is the cost of lives saved thanks to drones, which provide an invaluable safety element that takes boots off the war path.

So yes, drones are everywhere these days when you open or watch any media. I think the conversations are good and need to continue. I think we, as Americans, should consider drones as a useful tool that needs improvement.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, January 5, 2015

John Katko is Appointed Chairman of House Homeland Security....

Today John Katko picked up his first leadership post today when he was appointed chairman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee. Katko, R-Camillus, was one of six subcommittee chairs appointed by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. Katko, a former federal prosecutor who worked on border security issues early in his career, will take the oath of office Tuesday when the 114th Congress convenes at noon.
The others appointed subcommittee chairs are:

Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich. (Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security)
Rep. Peter King, R-Long Island, (Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence)
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas (Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies)
Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. (Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications)
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., (Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency)

So, what does this mean in terms of the day-to-day operations? A lot and a little. Right now, not much is going to happen with Katko's new responsibility. It is the long-term action that results from his appointment that needs to be considered. A focus on current laid plans for transportation will likely continue on "as is" and with Katko bringing a new perspective on overlapping homeland security concerns as far as different divisions of the government are concerned.

As I noted in my book, this Katko's potential ability to provide continued oversight of layered approaches and grey areas (always needed) may be a benefit to the subcommittee. This said, a lot of homeland security related news is happening this week and I look forward to covering all of it for you.

Twyla N. Garrett

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