WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman has sent his annual letter to the Senate Budget Committee detailing the funding he believes the Department of Homeland Security needs for Fiscal Year 2011. The letter follows:


March 9, 2010


The Honorable Kent Conrad


Committee on the Budget

624 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Judd Gregg

Ranking Member

Committee on the Budget

624 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairman Conrad and Ranking Member Gregg:


Thank you for affording me the opportunity to provide my views and estimates regarding the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget as it affects matters within the purview of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC).  As you prepare the budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2011, I hope the following recommendations and comments will assist you in preparing a budget plan for the federal government.  This letter addresses both matters related to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and agencies that fall under the Committee’s Governmental Affairs jurisdiction.


Budget Overview for the Department of Homeland Security


The President’s Budget Overview requests $43.6 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security in FY 2011, an increase of 2.7% over FY 2010 funding levels.  Overall, this is a balanced and prudent request in an economically difficult time.  Nonetheless, given recent reminders about the threats facing the United States, I believe there are a limited number of additional investments that should be made to address critical needs at the Department.    


DHS Headquarters and Management


            The Administration proposes moderate increases to the Department’s headquarters and management offices, which play a vital role in implementing the Secretary’s OneDHS policy and promoting the strategic and operational integration of the Department.  Where not specifically noted, I support full funding for the budget requests made in these accounts.  I am also pleased that the Department plans to realize substantial savings from the conversion of contractors to federal employees in many of its headquarters and management offices, and is using these savings to fund critical new activities.


Office of Procurement.  I support the President’s request for $99.8 million for the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer.  This amount includes $24.2 million in new funding to bring 100 new recruits into the Acquisition Professional Career Program, and will ensure that DHS expands workforce certifications in career fields of Test and Evaluation, Logistics, Systems Engineering, Cost Estimating and Financial Management – all key positions in ensuring the quality and value of acquisitions.  These continued investments in DHS’s acquisition workforce are needed to improve management of the cost, schedule and performance of the Department’s acquisitions, which exceeded $13 billion in the last fiscal year.


Office of Chief Information Officer.  The FY 2011 budget request continues to fund important DHS integration priorities for the Office of Chief Information Officer.  I support funding the majority of the $398 million budget request that will go to important projects that will assist the CIO’s office in providing enterprise solutions for the entire Department – including data center consolidation and e-mail as a service. The CIO’s office should also be commended for their ongoing review of major IT projects, which will help get troubled projects back on track and ensure that projects funded across the department are meeting their goals.


Homeland Security Department Headquarters.  The President’s budget for DHS and the General Services Administration (GSA) includes a combined $743 million request for the DHS Consolidated Headquarters Project, which would continue construction at the St. Elizabeth’s West Campus and allow DHS to lease space for its remaining components that cannot be housed at St. Elizabeths.  I believe it is imperative that Congress continue its support for this important project, and view it as a critical cornerstone of efforts to improve management at DHS.  Consolidating the majority of the Department’s functions into one location is essential to establishing a unified DHS culture and boosting morale.  Today, DHS is spread throughout 70 buildings across the National Capital Region, some totally inadequate for a vital federal department, making communication, coordination, and cooperation between DHS components a significant challenge.  A business would likely fail if it operated in this way, and the status quo undermines the overarching homeland security mission.


            Investing in a DHS headquarters is also a matter of fiscal responsibility and job creation.  DHS and GSA broke ground at St. Elizabeths earlier this year with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  If the DHS Headquarters Project is not fully funded, it could mean a significant delay or complete stoppage of work which in turn could cause hundreds of millions of federal stimulus dollars to be wasted and the jobs created by this project to be lost. 

             Therefore I strongly urge the Committee to support the President’s request for the DHS Consolidated Headquarters Project in both the DHS and GSA budgets.


DHS Office of Inspector General


The Department of Homeland Security needs effective oversight to meet its myriad substantive and organizational challenges, and I request that the Committee work to find additional funds to fully empower the Department’s Office of Inspector General. The Administration has requested $129.9 million for the OIG in FY 2011. The seeming increase reflects an accounting change concerning money typically transferred from the Disaster Relief Fund. When this is taken into account, the request is actually a small cut from current operations and does not include increases sought by the IG to keep pace with the Department’s growth, particularly in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  Under the Inspector General Reform Act of 2008, the Administration is required to relay to Congress the comments of IGs who believe the budget request for their office will “substantially inhibit” their ability to carry out their mission.  DHS IG Richard Skinner felt concerned enough to try to relay such comments, although they were not fully transmitted as they should have been. Skinner is seeking an additional $26 million and I urge that your Committee fund as much of this request as possible for this priority work. The Department’s OIG has a critical mission and the extra investment will likely pay for itself by enhancing the OIG’s ability to expose and correct waste, fraud and abuse regarding Department funds.   


Homeland Security and First Responder Grants

 Homeland security grants are a vital element of our national effort to prevent, prepare for, and respond to acts of terrorism and national disaster.  State and local governments rely on them to protect their communities and keep their citizens safe.  Given their importance, I am disappointed that the President’s budget would reduce funding for homeland security grants to states and localities by over $300 million or nearly 8%.  While some of these cuts are obscured by the inclusion of $200 million for grants to provide security for certain terrorism trials in civilian courts, which I believe are inappropriate, the Administration has proposed reducing funding for several programs, including the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs.  The Administration has also proposed eliminating a number of programs, including grants to fund medical preparedness for disasters that result in mass casualties and communications interoperability among first responders.

 I urge that funding for homeland security grants be maintained at levels no lower than those of FY 2010 and, in a few cases, that there be modest increases in funding.  I also strongly recommend maintaining those grant programs slated for elimination—in particular, those for medical preparedness and interoperability—rather than adopting the Administration’s proposal to fold them into other, larger grant programs.

 Firefighters.  AFG and SAFER grants provide essential funding to fire departments across the country. These are effective, competitive, peer-reviewed programs that help build much-needed capacity.  AFG has enabled departments to get essential training, equipment, and vehicles; and SAFER has allowed departments to hire sufficient staff to protect their communities around the clock.  Consequently, I am dismayed that these programs would suffer some of the largest reductions among grant programs.  AFG would be reduced 22% from last year—and, if the proposed cuts occur, a total of 46% from FY 2009.  Funding for SAFER would decline by 27% from last year.

 These cuts are particularly troubling given the obvious need for these funds.  In fact, if anything the volume of requests suggests that much more funding is needed.  In FY 2009, for example, AFG received more than $3 billion in applications for the $565 million then available.

 In a time of highly constrained local budgets and continued high unemployment rates, programs that support and employ first responders warrant continued support.   For these reasons, I urge you to fund SAFER and AFG each at $390 million in FY 2011.  Though an increase over the President’s proposed budget, this would maintain AFG funding at the FY2010 level – still well below the funding that AFG received in FY 2009 – and provide a significantly smaller cut in SAFER funding than the Administration has proposed.

 SHSGP and UASI. The State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) and the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) are the two largest homeland security grant programs.  SHSGP provides all states with basic, multipurpose preparedness funds while UASI targets essential funding to the nation’s highest risk metropolitan areas.  Both programs would receive nominal increases in the President’s budget.  However, the proposed increase in UASI funding is comprised almost entirely of up to $200 million that is set aside to provide for the enhanced security that would be needed to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the remaining suspects in the attacks of 9/11 in New York City.  Because I believe that enemy combatants should not be tried in civilian courts, I am strongly opposed to the proposed use of UASI grant funds for this purpose.  That money, I believe, would be better used to address the other urgent homeland security needs discussed in this letter. 

 As for SHSGP, the Administration proposes eliminating funding for several other grant programs—including the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program (IECGP), Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), Citizen Corps Program, and Driver’s License Security Grants Program—and allowing states and localities to use their SHSGP funds to cover these expenses.  However, the proposed $100 million increase in SHSGP falls considerably short of the funding necessary to maintain current spending levels for the targeted grant programs.

 In FY 2010, SHSGP received an appropriation of $950 million (including $60 million for Operation Stonegarden grants) and UASI was funded at $887 million.  The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, which enacted these two programs into law, authorized appropriations in FY 2011 of $950 million for SHSGP and $1.15 billion for UASI.  I recommend that SHSGP and UASI be funded at no less than FY 2010 levels and, if possible, at the full authorized amounts.  Also, as discussed in more detail below, I believe it is important to maintain certain important targeted grant programs such as IECGP and MMRS and not put new demands on UASI and SHSGP, particularly without the funding necessary to do so.

 Medical Preparedness.  MMRS supports preparedness for mass casualty events—whether as a result of a natural disaster or a terrorist attack—and brings together hospitals, government officials, and first responders to do critical planning before a disaster strikes. Each of the 124 MMRS jurisdictions serves to coordinate local and state pandemic flu plans, maintains a stockpile of chemical and biological agent antidotes allowing local first responders to operate under otherwise dangerous conditions, and is charged with the responsibility of developing plans for the rapid movement of patients when disasters occur.  Last year, each MMRS jurisdiction received less than $300,000, yet even with these modest funding levels, the MMRS system played an important role in many communities’ response to the H1N1 pandemic flu. 

 In its FY 2011 budget, the Administration has proposed eliminating funding for MMRS and instead relying on already overextended states and cities using their SHSGP and UASI awards for medical preparedness and response – a proposition made even more challenging because many of the existing MMRS jurisdictions are not aligned with either state or UASI area boundaries.  I think this would be a mistake.

 The scope of the terrible tragedy in Haiti, as well as the findings of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism concerning the likelihood of a biological attack, make clear the importance of a mass casualty preparedness program like MMRS.   Rather than eliminating the program, I strongly recommend that funding for MMRS be continued at no less than the modest $41 million appropriated in FY 2010 and, if possible, increased to $75 million, which would allow the program to expand and ensure that every state and UASI city could participate.

 Interoperability. Communications interoperability is vital for disaster response and other homeland security and public safety needs. I was therefore disappointed that the President’s budget request eliminated funding for IECGP.  Instead, the Administration has suggested that SHSGP and UASI funds be used to address interoperability needs.  Congress created IECGP largely because interoperability needs have taken up a disproportionate amount of other DHS grant programs, diverting funds from other needs.  While IECGP has been funded well below its authorized level, it has been an important tool in helping states implement their Statewide Interoperability Plans and advance governance structures that are essential for cooperation among federal, state and local entities.  While ideally I would like IECGP to be funded at its authorized level of $400 million in FY11, I recognize that fiscal constraints make full funding difficult.  I urge that IECGP be maintained as a separate grant program and that it be funded at least at the level of its FY 2010 appropriation of $50 million.

 Emergency Management.  The Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) program helps state and localities build the capabilities to be prepared for both natural and man-made disasters, and has traditionally focused particularly on planning efforts.  I support the President’s request for a slight increase, to $345 million, in funding for this important program.

 Transportation Security Grants.  Congress has recognized that our ports and transit systems still have substantial vulnerabilities.  In legislation over the last few years, Congress has identified hundreds of millions of dollars worth of needed security improvements: the SAFE Port Act of 2006 authorized $400 million annually for port security grants, while the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act authorized $900 million for transit security grants.   Congress followed up on this authorizing legislation by appropriating $400 million for each of these programs in FY 2008 and FY 2009.  In FY 2010, the appropriation for each of these programs was reduced to $300 million – but it was effectively supplemented by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which included $150 million each for port security and transit security grants.  (While ARRA port security and transit security funds were appropriated in FY 2009, the first grants were not awarded until late in that fiscal year and for the most part would generally not have been disbursed before FY 2010).  The Administration’s proposed FY 2011 budget nominally maintains FY 2010 funding levels for these two key security programs – $300 million each – but without the availability of the additional ARRA funds, the effect is a substantial decrease in funding levels from previous years.

 While I recognize that it may not be possible to fund transit security grants at the previously authorized levels, given the well documented threats to these systems, I urge the Committee to provide at least a modest level of additional funding for the Port Security Grant and Transit Security Grant programs beyond the President’s request– $345 million each.

 The Administration has also proposed eliminating funding for over-the-road bus security again, for which Congress authorized $25 million in FY 2011 in the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act, and which was funded at $12 million in FY 2010.    I believe there remain unmet needs in this field – such as training, exercises, and other security improvements identified in the 9/11 legislation – that should be supported.  Therefore I recommend that the Committee provide $10 million for this program in FY 2011.


Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

 Following Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 ("Post-Katrina Act"). Responding to the findings of an extensive HSGAC investigation that the government was woefully unprepared to deal with a national catastrophe and FEMA lacked essential capabilities and resources, the Post-Katrina Act sought to create a new FEMA – a stronger, more robust entity that would, for the first time, be equipped to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a true catastrophe.

 In years since Hurricane Katrina FEMA has received much needed increases in resources that have been essential in the process of implementing key provisions of the Post-Katrina Act.  But those increases were not enough to complete the new FEMA.  Last year FEMA’s appropriations for management and administration were essentially flat, leaving little to nothing for building the new FEMA.  Similarly, for FY 2011, the Administration fails to seek any additional funding for FEMA’s continued development. For example, no funds are requested to staff increases in areas such as operational planning, acquisitions, grants management, and logistics management. 

 This is disappointing given recent reports showing FEMA’s continued need for additional resources.  For example, an October 2009 report by the National Academy of Public Administration found that FEMA had insufficient capability in its regional offices and that regional officials routinely cited lack of staff as one of their major challenges.  A March 2008 report by the DHS Inspector General repeatedly emphasized that budget shortfalls and staff shortages were negatively affecting FEMA’s progress in building its capacity to respond to a catastrophe.  Another 2008 DHS OIG report similarly concluded that FEMA had not yet met the Post-Katrina Act’s requirement to establish a logistics system, and that FEMA needs to continue hiring and training acquisition personnel, and develop reliable, integrated financial and information systems.   

 Given the extensive remaining needs at FEMA, I recommend at least a modest increase in the FEMA Operations Management and Administration (OMA) account for FY 2011 to help ensure that FEMA continues to build the capabilities it so painfully lacked in the response to Hurricane Katrina. I understand that FEMA expects to deliver the results of its study of human capital resources, that was required in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for FY 2010, to Congress on June 30, 2010.  I look forward to the results of that study, and believe that the study’s findings will be helpful in ensuring that any additional OMA funds are allocated effectively to meet the greatest needs.

 Additionally, the President’s budget request does not include any specific funding for the private sector preparedness certification program required in section 901 of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.  As the response to Hurricane Katrina and other disasters demonstrates, it is vital to include the private sector in our preparedness activities and, without dedicated funding, I am concerned that this program will not be properly implemented, leaving us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and other disasters.

 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund.  Mitigation has proven to be a cost-effective measure. In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that future losses are reduced by about $3 for each $1 spent on mitigation efforts supported under the PDM program. Moreover, CBO found that PDM-funded projects could lower the need for federal post-disaster assistance so that the federal PDM investment would actually save taxpayers money in terms of the federal budget.  Given the demonstrated benefits of mitigation, HSGAC reported out a bill in 2008 that would have authorized funding of $230 million for the PDM program for FY 2011.  I recognize that reaching this funding goal is likely not feasible this year given overall constraints on the budget, but I nonetheless urge you to fund the PDM program at least at FY 2010 levels and higher if possible.

 Emergency Food and Shelter. This important and highly effective program provides emergency assistance to supplement community efforts to meet food, shelter, and other related needs of homeless and hungry persons to all fifty states.  Although this is always an important program, given the current economic downturn, this program is even more important this year.  In FY 2010, $200 million was appropriated for EFS.  I was dismayed to see that the budget request only seeks $100 million in FY 2011 – a 50% cut in funding.  I believe this program should be spared this drastic cut and be funded at $200 million, as it was in FY 2010.


Border Security and Immigration


            While I generally support the funding levels in the President’s request for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), I am concerned that the border security funding in the FY 2011 budget submission includes cuts to several programs that are a vital part of our efforts to deny terrorists the ability to travel.  Specifically, the President’s budget would zero out funding for the Global Advance Passenger Information program (Global API), does not include any funds for continuing to expand the Visa Security Program at high risk consular posts abroad, and does not include funding for the deployment of a biometric exit system. 


            Global API.  Global API is a small but vital program that seeks to provide the U.S.United States.   This program seeks to match airlines’ Passenger Name Record (PNR) data on international flights, which is made available to CBP 72 hours before departure, with a wide variety of government databases including the terrorist watch list.  Although PNR data usually does not have some significant identifying fields, this program gives CBP an important opportunity to begin pre-screening international flights well in advance of travel.  I believe this program remains valuable, especially in the wake of the Christmas Day attack.  I support adding $3 million to CBP’s Salaries and Expenses account in order to fully fund this program’s continued implementation. government with information about flights that do not have a nexus to the


            Visa Security Program.  The Visa Security Program (VSP), mandated by the Homeland Security Act, gives DHS limited authority to oversee the Department of State’s consular officers abroad in connection with the granting or refusal of visas and authorizes DHS to deploy investigators at consular posts abroad.  Although DHS and State have identified 57 high-risk consular posts abroad, only 14 of them have received Visa Security Units (VSUs).  The Christmas Day attack highlighted the importance of having adequate security measures in place at consular posts abroad.  I believe that the VSP is an essential tool for denying terrorists access to travel, and I was disappointed that the President’s budget includes no funding for expansion of this program in FY2011.  I urge that Congress provide ICE with $15 million above the Administration’s request to continue expanding the VSP to 8 additional high-risk consular posts in FY 2011.


            SBINet.  Additionally, I believe that the President’s budget request for border security needs to more effectively target federal resources to the threats our nation faces.  Although border technology and infrastructure programs have received over $3 billion dollars since FY 2007, the Department has once again delayed the troubled implementation of the first 50 mile stretch of “virtual fence” until the end of calendar year 2010.  The Administration has requested $574 million to finish deploying this first installment of the “virtual fence.” Over the past three years, I have expressed concern over the vagueness of the plans proposed by the Department to implement this border security initiative and cautioned against awarding a multiyear, multibillion dollar contract to a single contractor.  I continue to have concerns about this program’s implementation, and I recommend that Congress fence off the requested funding pending a thorough review of the program launched by Secretary Napolitano in recent weeks.


            Border Patrol and CBPO staffing.  Given our severe budgetary constraints, I support the Administration’s plan to reduce Border Patrol by 189 positions through attrition.  Secretary Napolitano testified before HSGAC that this reduction would not affect the number of agents deployed to the Northern and Southern borders and would maintain a staffing level of 20,000 agents for the Border Patrol—an increase of 133% since the end of FY 2000.  I am concerned, however, that our staffing levels for CBP officers at the ports of entry (POE) have suffered as a result of a decrease in fee collections.  Many experts believe that the ports of entry represent a greater threat to homeland security than the land border, something that was underscored by the Christmas Day attack, yet the ports of entry have received a steadily decreasing percentage of the overall CBP appropriation since 9/11. 


            Violence at the US-Mexico Border.  While the Christmas attack has focused our attention on the threat posed by terrorists abroad, I am also greatly concerned by the rapid increase in violence among the drug cartels in Mexico.  This gruesome violence has claimed the lives of over 15,000 people in the last two years, and murder rates have been increasing over this period.  I am saddened that this violence continues, and that despite our government’s best efforts, the cart