WASHINGTON — Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Monday issued the following reaction to the Obama Administration’s FY2012 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget:
“Increased funding in the $43.2 billion budget for cyber security, the acquisition workforce, and to bar terrorist travel reflects an on-target prioritization of vulnerabilities that must be strengthened for the sake of the nation’s security.
“The Administration’s 17 percent, or $67 million, increase in funding for cybersecurity, compared to the FY2011 Continuing Resolution, will enable the Department to better coordinate the security of critical cyber systems and information, which are under constant and increasing threat from foreign and domestic digital thieves and hackers.
“The proposed boost in funding to invigorate the Department’s acquisition workforce is especially critical to cost cutting, as poorly administered contracts account for an unconscionable amount of waste, fraud, and abuse. A $24 million increase for 150 additional acquisition officers will help reduce cost and schedule overruns and faulty performance of major acquisitions. Additional funds for the Office of Procurement will allow it to develop cost analysis capabilities so DHS can make wiser investment decisions.
“I am grateful for the additional resources proposed for programs to disrupt and prevent terrorist travel at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The Administration proposes a $572 million increase for additional passenger and baggage screening, more Air Marshals and behavior detection officers, more screeners in foreign airports, and more accurate terrorist watchlists.
“The Administration proposes $800 million in Department-wide administrative savings, an admirable decision given the need for agencies to operate efficiently and with fiscal restraint. But a 10 percent, or $88 million, cut to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) operating budget will likely impede its steady progress toward becoming an agency capable of responding to catastrophes. And while I appreciate the urgency for budget restraint, I am disappointed in the Administration’s proposed 17 percent, or $140 million, cut to fire grants that help train, equip, and hire fire fighters and emergency medical personnel. I am also troubled by the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the Metropolitan Medical Response System, which is critical to preparedness for medical surge in large-scale disasters.
“Finally, I am personally disappointed by the proposed delay in building DHS a proper headquarters at St. Elizabeths. A delay in ongoing construction will likely increase costs to taxpayers in the future. DHS now operates out of 70 different buildings around the Washington area. A unified headquarters is a critical cornerstone to improving DHS’s ability to achieve its core functions in a coordinated and efficient way.
“I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress on a bipartisan basis to ensure the Department has the funding it needs to perform all of its missions. We will begin that process on Thursday when DHS Secretary Napolitano testifies before the Committee on the Department’s priorities.”