Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Obama's Department of Homeland Security appointee
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Obama's recently named appointee to head the Department of Homeland Security.
Source: Arizona governor's office
Though it is charged with keeping America safe, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also run up a record of high-profile failures during its short history.

Its role in the response to Hurricane Katrina, followed by a series of cyber security breaches, led to Congressional criticism of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and its CIO, Scott Charbo. And several of its proposed programs have stalled.

It's a legacy that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is poised to inherit, having been named on Monday as President-elect Barack Obama's pick for DHS secretary.

And as a result of the DHS's troubles, information security experts have a laundry list of suggestions for Napolitano once she's confirmed.

First off, she should speed up the hiring process to better protect against future cyber security threats, according to Shannon Kellogg, director of information security policy at EMC (NYSE: EMC).

Kellogg pointed out that the DHS has lost several employees involved in information security, including Greg Garcia, assistant secretary for cyber security and communications, who announced his departure this week.

Getting new people in quickly and retaining them will be important because US-CERT, the operational arm of the department's National Cyber Security Division and a key player in national and private sector Internet security, is building out broader capabilities and expanding quickly, Kellogg told InternetNews.com.

"That requires you hire people very quickly, but this is counter to how government hiring processes work," she added.

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