Head of DHS Drone Program Under Ethics Investigation

U.S. Customs and Border Protection drones used near the Texas/Mexico.

Director of federal drone program targeted in ethics inquiry (Los Angeles Times):

The chief of the Homeland Security Department’s drone aircraft program is facing an ethics investigation for joining the board of directors of the largest industry group promoting the use of unmanned aircraft, officials said Monday.The internal affairs office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reviewing whether Tom Faller, director of unmanned aircraft systems operations, violated internal rules when he took an unpaid position as a board member of the Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International on Aug. 16.

Faller oversees eight Predator B surveillance drones that are chiefly used to help search for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers on the northern and southwestern borders.

In some cases, the drones also have been used to assist the Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations, and to survey damage after floods and other natural disasters.

After inquiries from the Los Angeles Times last month, Faller notified the group on Nov. 23 that he was resigning from the board, said Melanie Hinton, a spokeswoman for the drone group. She said Faller did not attend any board meetings.

“Internal affairs is reviewing issues related to an employee’s outside associations,” Joanne Ferreira, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman, said Monday in response to questions about Faller. “We are unable to comment on any ongoing investigation.”

AUVSI Announces Newly Elected Board of Directors (AUVSI):

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) announced during its annual AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2011 its newly elected leaders on its Board of Directors.The Executive Committee will be led by incoming Chairman of the Board Peter Bale, Executive Vice Chair John Lademan, First Vice Chairman Ralph Alderson, Treasurer Joe Brannan; and Immediate Past Chairman John Lambert.

Newly elected AUVSI Board of Directors:
COL (Ret) John Burke
Tom Faller
RADM (ret) Timothy Heely
Neil Hunter
Dr. Mark Patterson
Dr. Virginia (Suzy) Young

Continuing Board of Directors Members:
Michele Kalphat
Chris Mailey
Chad Partridge
Dave Seagle
Grant Begley
Matt England
Gene Fraser
Stephen Newton
David Place
Peter Smith

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