WASHINGTON—Noting two years worth of delays and missed deadlines in the production of a national transportation strategy, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., are pressing the Homeland Security Department to complete and detailed plan within the next two to three months. The HSGAC was responsible for creating the Department of Homeland Security and is now responsible for overseeing its activities.
In a letter to DHS Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson, the Chairman and Ranking Member acknowledge Secretary Chertoff’s desire for a top-to-bottom review of department plans and policies, given his short tenure on the job. The Senators, however, indicated that repeated delays in producing the report – due most recently on April 1 – were not furthering the security of Americans or our national transportation system.
The Aviation Transportation Security Act of 2001 originally required a national transportation security plan and strategy. In 2003, then Transportation Security Administrator Adm. James Loy promised the plan by the end of that year. Most recently, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 required the plan to be produced by April 1, 2005. Deputy Secretary Jackson informed the Committee that the Department would miss its latest deadline.
“We are concerned that the delay in producing a cohesive and comprehensive transportation security strategy is adversely affecting the federal government’s ability to protect the citizens of this country,” the Senators wrote. “It is important not only that these documents be completed and delivered, but that they provide the necessary detail and vision to provide a roadmap for coordinating and improving transportation security.”
Following is the text of the letter:
April 13, 2005
The Honorable Michael P. Jackson
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Deputy Secretary Jackson:
We are writing in response to your April 5, 2005 letter to us, which indicated that you and Secretary Chertoff are reviewing the National Strategy for Transportation Security and would not meet the April 1, 2005 deadline specified in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
We understand that both you and Secretary Chertoff, having only recently been confirmed for your positions, need some time to review all of the relevant plans and policies that the Department must complete. However, we are concerned that the Department has been working on a comprehensive national transportation security plan or strategy since 2003, and that your predecessor, Admiral Loy, previously testified that the Department’s work on the National Strategy for Transportation Security would be completed by December 2003. For various reasons and at various times, the Department has repeatedly pushed back the completion date for this document, and we are concerned that the delay in producing a cohesive and comprehensive transportation security strategy is adversely affecting the federal government’s ability to protect the citizens of this country.
We appreciate your statement that neither you nor Secretary Chertoff take lightly missing a Congressional deadline. You have stated that the Department now intends to produce both the National Strategy for Transportation Security and the modal-specific plans which help compose the broader strategy to Congress in 2-3 months, and we look forward to receiving those documents on or before that time frame. It is important not only that these documents be completed and delivered, but that they provide the necessary detail and vision to provide a roadmap for coordinating and improving transportation security across all modes, as set forth in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. This necessarily includes setting forth the respective responsibilities of and relationships among the Federal government, state and local entities and the private sector owners and operators of the transportation system.
We look forward to receiving the National Strategy for Transportation Security, and to working with you and your staff at the Department to improve the security of this country. If you have any questions, please feel free to have your staff contact Kathy Kraninger of the majority staff at (202) 224-4751 or minority staff member Jason Yanussi at (202) 224-2627.