|WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., lays out his budget priorities for homeland security in his annual letter to the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Senate Budget Committee:
March 13, 2009
The Honorable Kent Conrad
The Honorable Judd Gregg
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 2010 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 2010 (FY 2010), 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.
As you know, the President’s full budget request for Fiscal Year 2010 has not yet been submitted to Congress. Therefore I am unable to weigh in on new or expanded initiatives that may appear in that request to the extent that I have in previous letters to the Budget Committee. After Congress receives the details about the priorities of the Administration, I may wish to provide the Budget Committee with additional views on several matters addressed in this letter.
Budget Overview for the Department of Homeland Security
The President’s Budget Overview requests $42.7 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security in FY 2010. This represents a 6.5% increase from discretionary funding of $40.1 billion in FY 2009, if one excludes the one-time $2.175 billion advance appropriation for the Bioshield program that was included in the FY 2009 budget (without than exclusion, the increase would only be 1.2%).
We do not yet know in any detail how the Administration proposes to allocate this modest increase in funding among the Department’s many needs. What is clear is that there are still areas in which we will need to invest more if we are to adequately meet the challenges of securing our homeland. This letter highlights some of those areas, including areas the President has cited as priorities in his Budget Overview.
DHS Headquarters and Management
To continue the crucial transformation of DHS into a unified Department, I recommend that the Committee increase funding for offices that fall under the Office of the Secretary and Executive Management and Under Secretary of Management accounts. Offices that are funded under these accounts, including the Office of Policy, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, and Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, are critical for ensuring that the Secretary is able to effectively manage and integrate the components of the Department, exercise control over the acquisition process to avoid waste and abuse, and promote practices that generate savings for the Department. I request that these offices be funded sufficiently above FY 2009 levels to achieve these ends.
DHS Acquisition Workforce. The budget should also fully fund DHS initiatives to grow and train its acquisition workforce. Many of the Department’s troubles in planning, negotiating and overseeing contracts flow from the sheer shortage of acquisition personnel. The Department has made significant strides in addressing these shortages, including the creation of an acquisition professional career program and new training requirements for program managers. More resources are needed, though. In the area of contract specialists alone, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reported vacancy rates in component procurement offices ranging from 12 to 35%. GAO also reported staffing shortages in other critical acquisition-related positions such as program managers and system engineers. For example, GAO found that 40% of DHS major investments lacked a certified program manager. An investment in acquisition personnel will pay off in the form of better crafted and better executed contracts, and less waste of taxpayers’ dollars.
DHS Headquarters Construction. I fully support the construction of a consolidated headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security. Today, DHS is spread throughout more than 70 buildings across the National Capital Region making communication, coordination, and cooperation between DHS components a significant challenge. I believe Congress should continue to provide support for this important project, and view it as a critical cornerstone of efforts to improve management at the Department. Consolidating the majority of DHS’s functions into one location is essential to establishing a unified DHS culture and boosting morale.
In FY 2009, Congress appropriated a total of $1.094 billion for the DHS Consolidated Headquarters Project at the St. Elizabeth’s Campus in Washington, DC. This total includes both funding provided as part of the regular appropriations process and funds provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5; ARRA). The decision to expedite this critical project in the ARRA was important for both our nation’s security and the local National Capital Region economy. Additional funds may be required in FY 2010 to maintain the momentum and cost savings generated by the FY 2009 appropriations and keep the project on schedule.
Office of Inspector General. As a large and young department, it is critical that DHS have a strong oversight component. The DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is a key partner in ensuring the success of the Department and its vital homeland security and other missions. It is critical that we maintain and if possible increase resources for the OIG. The OIG has seen a steady increase in its workload, including statutory obligations. While there have been some funding increases for this office, much of the increase reflects specific responsibilities related to FEMA and there are additional areas where the OIG needs to increase its focus as well. I strongly urge continued support for the work of this vital office, and increased resources if possible.
Homeland Security and First Responder Grants
Homeland security grants, and the state and local capabilities they support, are an integral part of the national effort to prevent, prepare for, and respond to acts of terrorism and natural disasters. I am therefore pleased that, after a number of years of steep cuts in homeland security grants to state and local governments and first responders, this funding has remained relatively stable for the last two fiscal years. Also welcome is the suggestion in the Administration’s Budget Overview that “[a]dditional funding is provided [in the FY 2010 budget] to improve coordination between all levels of government, support our first responders, and create more effective emergency response plans”; I look forward to seeing further details of the Administration’s proposed funding in this area when the full budget is released.
Because state and local governments and first responders rely on homeland security grants to protect their communities and keep their citizens safe, I urge that funding for these grants be maintained at levels no lower than FY 2009 levels and believe that, in some cases, increased funding is warranted.
SHSGP and UASI: The two largest and most fundamental of the homeland security grant programs, the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) provides all states with basic, multipurpose preparedness funds, while the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) targets grants to the nation’s highest-risk cities. Both the SHSGP and UASI programs were permanently authorized in the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act as part of comprehensive provisions – the result of extensive debate and negotiation among many interested parties – that for the first time set forth statutory requirements for the grants’ allocation and use. The Act authorized appropriations of $950 million for SHSGP and $1.05 billion for UASI in FY 2010, and I urge that these programs be funded at the full authorized levels.
Interoperability: Communications interoperability is essential for disaster response and other homeland security and public safety needs, and the development of interoperable communications is perennially a top priority for state and local homeland security officials. Interoperability is a complex problem that will be resolved only through strong federal leadership, coordination at all levels of government, and a substantial commitment of dedicated funding. I recommend that the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program (IECGP) established in the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act be funded at the level authorized by Congress for FY 2010, $400 million.
Firefighters: Assistance to Firefighter Grants and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants provide critical federal assistance to our nation’s firefighters, through support for needed equipment, training and personnel. Appropriations for both programs are authorized in the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act at levels significantly in excess of current program funding. I urge that both these important programs be funded in FY10 at or, if possible, above FY 2009 appropriated levels: $560 million and $190 million for Assistance to Firefighter and SAFER grants respectively.
Emergency Management: The Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) program is an important program that has traditionally focused on essential planning efforts and helps build the capabilities for states and localities to be prepared for all hazards – whether a natural disaster or an act of terrorism. The 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act authorized appropriations for EMPG of $680 million in FY 2010, and I recommend that the program be funded at that level.
Transportation Security Grants: Congress has recognized that our ports and transit systems, as well as rail, bus, and truck operators, still have substantial vulnerabilities. In recent legislation, Congress has identified hundreds of millions of dollars worth of needed security improvements: the SAFE Port Act of 2006 authorized $400 million for port security grants in FY 2010, while the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act authorized $900 million for transit security grants, $508 million for rail security, and $27 million for bus and truck security in FY 2009. While I recognize that it may be impossible to fully fund each of these authorizations, I strongly recommend that the port and transit (which includes rail) security grant programs each receive at least $400 million for FY 2010, the same level Congress appropriated for FY 2009, and ask that the bus security program increase from $12 million in FY 2009 to $16 million in FY 2010 to assist in addressing significant unmet needs in that area.
Medical Response: From its inception following the Oklahoma City bombing, the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) has ensured that local planning, exercises and execution of disaster response plans among our fire, police, and paramedic first responders is integrated with that of our medical personnel, our clinics and our hospitals. 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 disaster occurs. Yet this program has been under-funded in recent years. In fact MMRS funding in FY 2009 ($41 million) was lower than in FY 2004 ($50 million). The Post-Katrina Emergency Management and Reform Act of 2006 (the Post-Katrina Act), P.L. 109-295, authorized MMRS funding of $63 million dollars for FY 2008 and I believe this is an appropriate level of funding in FY 2010 as well. Among other things, additional funding would allow MMRS assistance to be expanded to additional jurisdictions.
Nonprofit Security Grants: For four out of the last five years, funds have been appropriated for grants to nonprofit organizations determined to be at high risk of a terrorist attack to support target hardening and other security measures; $25 million was appropriated in both FY 2005 and FY 2006 (FY 2006 funds were not awarded however until FY 2007), and $15 million was appropriated in FY 2008 and FY 2009. We have seen the willingness of terrorists to attack so-called "soft targets" – for example in the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India. There is a public interest in protecting those institutions where important health, social, community, educational and other services are carried out, and I urge that funding for nonprofit security grants be continued at no less than the modest levels appropriated in FY 2005 and FY 2006, and, if possible, at higher levels.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Following Hurricane Katrina, HSGAC conducted an extensive investigation of the botched response and of FEMA, which found that FEMA was woefully unprepared to deal with a national catastrophe, lacking essential capabilities and resources. HSGAC made significant recommendations for improvements to FEMA, which were implemented in the Post-Katrina Act. The Act creates a new FEMA – a stronger, more robust entity that would, for the first time, be equipped to prepare for and respond to a true catastrophe. The legislation also puts preparedness functions back into FEMA; strengthens FEMA’s regional offices and emergency response teams; and strengthens and enhances emergency planning and preparedness responsibilities.
Building the New FEMA: In order to implement the Post-Katrina Act, over the last couple years FEMA received much needed increases in resources that were essential steps in the long process of building the new FEMA and implementing other provisions of the Post-Katrina Act. However, additional substantial increases are still necessary. In April 2008, HSGAC held a hearing on a report of the DHS OIG entitled “FEMA’s Preparedness for the Next Catastrophic Disaster.” The report found FEMA was making progress in building its capacity to respond to a catastrophe, but repeatedly emphasized that budget shortfalls and staff shortages were negatively affecting FEMA’s progress. The report also found that FEMA officials agreed with this conclusion. In addition, our Committee’s ongoing investigation into the threat of and preparedness for nuclear terrorism corroborates the continuing need for a more robust FEMA. Recent hearings on the the nation’s readiness for nuclear terrorism revealed that preparedness improvements could save tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives.
Additional resources are needed to fulfill the statutory requirements in the Post-Katrina Act and other gaps that have recently emerged. For example, the Post-Katrina Act requires FEMA to establish strike teams – a special type of highly skilled and trained interagency emergency response team – in each of FEMA’s 10 regions. FEMA currently has only 2 national teams and 4 of the required regional teams. FEMA estimates that $3 million is necessary to fund each of the required 6 additional teams. Additionally, a recent report of the DHS Office of Inspector General, “Major Management Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security,” concludes that FEMA has 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 developing reliable, integrated financial and information systems. Comprehensive disaster response planning across the federal government and in conjunction with state and local governments is critical and additional resources are needed to expedite these efforts. The National Response Framework recently made FEMA the lead agency to provide mass care in a response, instead of the American Red Cross. FEMA also requires additional resources to fulfill this critical, new mission.
Additionally, FY 2009 appropriations did not include any specific funding for the private sector preparedness certification program required in section 901 of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act. Without dedicated funding, I am concerned that this program, which is vital to our homeland security, will not be properly implemented, leaving us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and other disasters.
In order to continue to build FEMA into an entity that can respond to a catastrophe, implement the other requirements of the Post-Katrina Act, complete essential planning, fulfill the mass care mission, and to provide funding for implementation of the private sector preparedness program, I ask that you increase FEMA’s Management and Administration account and other relevant aspects of FEMA’s budget in FY 2010 by $125 million over FY 2009 appropriated levels. This will be another essential step forward in the long process of building the new FEMA.
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund: Mitigation has proven to be a cost-effective measure. HSGAC has found that Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) is an effective program for reducing loss of life, personal injuries, damage to and destruction of property, and disruption of communities from disasters. This assessment is supported by recent studies. 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. Additionally, a recent study by the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council found that every dollar FEMA spends on mitigation provides the nation $4 in future benefits. Congress authorized PDM funding of $220 million for FY 2010, and I believe this is an appropriate level of funding for FY 2010 given the clear benefits of mitigation.
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. Given the crippling recession that is gripping our country, funding for this program should be increased substantially over the FY 2009 appropriated level.
Border Security and Immigration
The President’s budget offers few details concerning border security programs and does not establish a baseline for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) funding in FY 2010. I support increases of $390 million for CBP and $90 million for ICE in FY 2010, as detailed below.
With respect to border security in general, I am concerned that the border security funding may not be being targeted as efficiently as it should be. For example, border technology and infrastructure programs have received over $3 billion dollars since FY2007, yet the department has only piloted the border technology program in a 28 mile stretch of the border since it began receiving this funding and is tentatively scheduling deployment of a scaled back version of this technology to 50 miles of the border by sometime in 2010. The Border Patrol has almost doubled in the last three fiscal years, while the number of CBP officers at ports of entry has remained basically stable despite long wait times at the border. If this trend continues, it could lead to a misalignment of resources and the under-funding of critical border security priorities, in particular this nation’s efforts to enhance the security of our ports of entry through the deployment of programs such as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), and US-VISIT.
Border Security at the Ports of Entry: For the reasons stated above, I support an increase of $285 million over the FY 2009 appropriated level for additional staffing at ports of entry. Of this additional funding, $250 million would be for hiring, training, and deploying an additional 1,600 officers to the busiest ports of entry (POE) as determined by average wait times at air and land POE or at maritime POE as determined by the Resource Allocation Model required by the SAFE Port Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-347). The balance of $35 million would support the inspection of plants and agricultural products at ports of entry, including the hiring of 200 additional agriculture specialists who serve a critical role in protecting the U.S. from both the intentional and unintentional introduction of diseases and pests that threaten human health and the nation’s economy.
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: I recommend an increase of $30 million, to $255 million, for continuing the implementation of WHTI. Congress extended the WHTI deadline to June 1, 2009, which means that FY 2010 will be the first full year in which the program is in effect at the land border. In order to support DHS as it moves to fully implement this critical program, it is important that we provide the Department the necessary resources it will need to ensure it meets all the requirements established by Congress.
Training for Border Patrol Agents: The President’s budget request notes that Border Patrol manpower will be maintained at 20,000 agents in the FY 2010 budget. I am concerned that the rapid increase in Border Patrol agents over the past five years has resulted in a less experienced workforce, and for this reason I support increasing funding for training between the POE by $25 million to $100 million in FY 2010. This funding should be used to ensure that Border Patrol agents are receiving ongoing training, with a special emphasis given to agents transferred to the northern border.
Ports of Entry Infrastructure: The nation’s port of entry infrastructure is currently significantly out of date, which led to the inclusion of $400 million in POE infrastructure funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) within CBP’s construction account. While this funding is a good first step, it merely represents a down-payment on the far greater need to modernize our ports of entry. For this reason, I support maintaining funding for the CBP construction account at $403 million in FY 2010.
Combating Border Violence: I am greatly concerned about the rapid increase in violence involving the drug cartels in Mexico, which has claimed the lives of over 6,000 people in the last year and shows little signs of slowing. The combination of increasing enforcement at the U.S. border, which has made smuggling drugs more difficult, and the Mexican government’s commitment to take on the cartels has resulted in an all out war amongst the cartels and between the cartels and Mexican authorities. As the cartels become increasingly ruthless, they may increasingly turn their attention to the U.S. side of the border. In fact, attacks on Border Patrol officers are becoming more common and more severe. For this reason, I propose providing CBP with $50 million in additional funding to better coordinate the border response to the violence in Mexico, including providing funding for the establishment or enhancement of fusion centers along the southwest border and for expanding the Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs) which bring together law enforcement entities from both sides of the border.
Combating Smuggling and Trafficking: One of the main catalysts of the violence in Mexico has been the rampant flow of illegal firearms south from the United States. In order to meet our responsibilities to our southern neighbor, I recommend providing ICE with an additional $50 million to expand their Armas Cruzadas program, which investigates and interdicts the cross-border smuggling of firearms, and their Border Enforcement Security Teams (BESTs). I also recommend an increase in funding for the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center (HSTC). The Center was established by Section 7202 of the Immigration Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) in order to serve as a focal point for interagency efforts to integrate and disseminate intelligence and information related to terrorist travel. The HSTC coordinates and de-conflicts intelligence, law enforcement and other information to bring more effective international action against human smugglers, traffickers of persons and criminals facilitating terrorist travel. This function is more important than ever given the current war involving the Mexican cartels. I urge you to include $30 million to allow the Center to carry out its existing responsibilities, increase staffing levels and reimburse other federal departments for personnel.
Detention and Alternatives to Detention: In each of the last three years I have introduced bipartisan legislation, The Secure and Safe Detention and Asylum Act, to address the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and other ICE detainees in county jails and other prison-like detention facilities. One important provision of the legislation requires the nationwide expansion of existing alternatives to detention programs (this provision was also included in a modified version of the bill accepted by the Senate in 2007). These programs not only ensure more humane treatment of non-criminal aliens, they also save the U.S. taxpayer tens of millions of dollars. Successful alternatives to detention programs rely on a combination of close supervision by case managers and, when necessary, electronic monitoring. The programs can be introduced in new regions quickly and their caseloads expanded rapidly. Whereas detention facilities often cost ICE well over $100 per person per day, successful alternatives to detention programs have incurred an average cost of approximately $15 per person per day, and the average costs have come down as the programs have expanded. I recommend that funding for alternatives to detention programs be increased by $60 million and that there be a corresponding reduction of $50 million for ICE detention operations.
Rail and Transit Security
As the President’s recent FY 2010 budget proposal makes clear, the Department of Homeland Security must ramp up its efforts to assist state, local and private operators in safeguarding the Nation’s rail and public transportation systems. The attacks in Madrid, London and Mumbai make it all too clear that terrorists see rail and transit systems as convenient and inviting targets. Unlike our domestic aviation system, our rail and transit systems are open systems designed to quickly move commuters to, from and through our communities. Every weekday, Americans make 34 million trips a day, to or from their jobs, schools, shops, doctors and millions of other places. It is imperative that the Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in particular work with local rail and transit providers to ensure the safety and security of their passengers.
Surface Transportation Security Inspectors: As a recent report by the DHS OIG makes clear, TSA’s complement of Transportation Security Inspectors – Surface (TSIs) is woefully inadequate for the responsibilities they are expected to fulfill. Thus far, TSIs have only been able to profile about half of the mass transit stations in the United States, and this workforce will be further strained when TSA begins using more inspectors to oversee pipeline security matters. By comparison, the Department of Transportation employs more than 1,350 surface safety inspectors for the same infrastructure that TSA must help protect. I believe TSA will need to increase the number of surface security inspectors over the next several years, to ensure timely profiles and assessments are completed and so that TSA is able to properly respond to security incidents, working with local authorities. Therefore, I recommend $50 million in funding for FY 2010, an increase of more than $25 million over the amount appropriated for FY 2009, for TSA’s Surface Transportation Security Inspector office to hire, train and deploy 175 additional TSIs in the next fiscal year.
VIPR Teams: I strongly support the President’s budget requests $50 million for TSA’s Visual Intermodal Protection Response (VIPR) teams – providing for 15 new teams. These teams, made up of TSIs, Transportation Security Officers, Behavior Detection Officers, Federal Air Marshals, Canine Teams and local transit police, are designed to provide both random and surge force protection capabilities to transportation hubs across the country. VIPR teams are an important component of a layered defense strategy for rail and transit security.
Transportation Security Center of Excellence: The 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act authorized the creation of a National Transportation Security Center of Excellence, to stimulate research, development and training for transportation security – particularly surface transportation security. The National Transportation Security Center of Excellence is actually a consortium of universities located across the country that can help provide the basic research needed for the future of transportation and homeland security. I recommend the Science and Technology Directorate be provided with $3 million in FY2010, an increase of $1 million, to help accelerate basic research and development for rail and transit security.
Planning for Intermodal Freight Infrastructure: I support the request in the President’s budget for $25 million for integrated planning at DHS and the Department of Transportation for the development and modernization of intermodal freight infrastructure, linking freight rail networks with our ports and highway network. Intermodal transportation hubs are key components of our transportation network, and are a particular risk to the health of that network, as an attack at or near an intermodal hub would have a cascading effect on domestic and international commerce.
Port and Maritime Security
Port and maritime security continues to be a major issue in U.S. homeland security. 95% of foreign trade enters through our ports. An attack at a U.S. port would damage our critical infrastructure and have devastating consequences for our economy. While several initiatives to strengthen maritime security overlap with other broad responsibilities of DHS – like border security or nuclear detection – several discrete CBP and Coast Guard programs contribute directly to our maritime security. I support fully funding the President’s request for programs like CBP’s Container Security Initiative (CSI), the Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and the Automated Targeting System (ATS), as well as the Coast Guard’s Deepwater and Rescue 21 programs. As noted earlier, I also support increasing funding for additional Customs and Border Protection Officers, who could be deployed to maritime ports of entry, for research and development within the Science & Technology Directorate’s Maritime Security Division, and for nuclear detection programs throughout DHS.
Interagency Operations Centers: A recent Committee hearing on the lessons learned from the attack in Mumbai last year highlighted that major cities all over the world, including in the U.S., remain vulnerable to threats from small vessels. While DHS and the Coast Guard continue to look at ways to address this vulnerability, one step that can be taken is to provide the Coast Guard with the authorized amount for the creation of Interagency Operations Centers at domestic ports. The SAFE Port Act authorizes $60 million for FY 2010 for the establishment of these centers, and I urge you to fully fund this program in the Coast Guard’s budget.
Project Seahawk: In FY 2010, DHS is prepared to assume responsibility for one of the first interagency operations centers established. Project Seahawk was created in 2003 through the Department of Justice, establishing a model interagency operations center which brought CBP, Coast Guard, and U.S. Attorney’s office personnel together with local port and law enforcement officials, in order to improve local port security operations. I believe local participation contributes to the success of Project Seahawk, and other interagency operations centers, and I urge you to include $1 million to fund Project Seahawk’s State and Local Law Enforcement Integration program.
Secure Freight Initiative: In 2006 Congress passed the SAFE Port Act, and in the process authorized a pilot program to begin testing systems to scan 100% of cargo containers at foreign ports, using passive radiation detection equipment combined with non-intrusive inspection equipment. The Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) was established by DHS and the Department of Energy to meet this legislative requirement. For the past 18 months operations have continued at the majority of the initial ports and DHS has been able to identify particular hurdles ports would need to overcome if foreign ports were going to scan 100% of cargo containers. In particular, DHS has acknowledged that larger volume ports and ports which process a great deal of transshipped cargo pose some of the biggest challenges. Therefore, I support an additional $30 million for SFI in FY 2010, above the President’s request, to be equally split between CBP’s budget and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration budget, for the purpose of adding two new ports to the SFI program. One port would be added to test scanning solutions for a port processing a high volume of transshipped cargo, and a second port would test systems processing medium to high volumes of containers (though not necessarily transshipped containers).
United States Coast Guard
As the Commandant of the Coast Guard noted at his recent annual State of the Coast Guard Address, there has never been a greater demand for the service of the Coast Guard. Since 9/11, the Coast Guard has continued to perform its vital traditional missions – from Marine Safety to Environmental Protection to Search and Rescue – while continuing to accept an ever increasing responsibility for homeland security. The modernization of the Coast Guard, not just with its equipment and vessels, but also of its personnel, has become the key to the future success of the service. Therefore I recommend the budget include funding for no fewer than 1,250 new FTE, including both military and civilian personnel, for the Coast Guard in FY 2010. I urge you to provide at least $250 million in the budget for this purpose.
Coast Guard Academy: The Coast Guard Academy is a vital component of the Coast Guard, and responsible for educating and providing a significant portion of the service’s science and engineering personnel. The success of the Academy translates very directly to the overall success of the Coast Guard. Over the past several years, the Coast Guard Academy has been renovating a number of its facilities, to ensure it remains a first class institution of higher learning. One of the more visible projects has been the ongoing renovation of the cadet dormitory, Chase Hall. I support the President’s request for funding to continue efforts to renovate Chase Hall in stages. However, I believe the Academy needs additional funding for several key programs and projects, and I recommend including an additional $21.6 million in the Coast Guard’s budget to fund key improvements. These include funding for a new firing range, funds to plan and design a new Visitors Center, and funding for the Academy’s Admissions Office.
Federal Protective Service
The Federal Protective Service (FPS) is responsible for providing security for more than 8,000 federal buildings around the country, and the more than 12 million federal employees working in them. In each of the past two years, the previous Administration proposed realigning the FPS and cutting approximately 25% of the existing uniformed security personnel within the agency. In response, Congress required the Federal Protective Service to maintain no fewer than 1,200 full-time equivalent staff (FTEs), including at least 900 law enforcement officers. Congress also required that the FPS adjust the fee it collects from the agencies it serves in order to meet the FTE requirement and maintain an appropriate level of security for federal employees and buildings. In the authorization bill for the Department of Homeland Security that I introduced in Congress last year, I proposed raising the floor for FPS personnel to 1,300 FTEs, including at least 950 law enforcement officers, for FY 2010. Therefore I recommend you include $675 million for this purpose in FY 2010, an increase of approximately $25 million over what was provided in FY09. (Please note that the Federal Protective Service is a fee-funded agency, and does not receive direct appropriations.)
Directorate of Science and Technology
The DHS Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T) has matured into an effectively managed organization that is equipped to provide timely and scientifically sound research and development support to the missions of DHS agencies. S&T’s Integrated Project Teams are incorporating the requirements of operational users into the Directorate’s strategic planning and budgeting process. Rigorous financial and oversight reforms have addressed the management issues that prompted Congress to reduce the Directorate’s budget by nearly 40% in 2006. The Directorate has issued a revised and expanded five year research and development plan for DHS and established a testing and evaluation quality assurance process that has addressed weaknesses identified in the Advanced Spectroscopic Portal (ASP) acquisition program and will inform DHS investment reviews of major technology acquisitions.
In light of the Directorate’s steady progress in the last two fiscal years, I believe it is prudent to continue the gradual restoration of the Directorate’s funding base that began in the FY 2009 budget. Therefore, I strongly support an increase of $100 million to ensure S&T’s capacity to address several of the primary homeland security objectives articulated in the President’s FY 2010 Budget Overview, including cybersecurity, border security, rail and transit security, and support to first responders.
Within this $100 million increase, I recommend that you provide for an increase of $25 million for cybersecurity-related research and development (R&D), which would expand existing R&D programs focused on enhancing the security of our nation’s information technology networks and the critical infrastructure which rely upon those networks. In addition, I recommend an increase of $25 million in FY 2010 to expand on the important programs that the Directorate’s Border and Maritime Security Division is funding with the guidance and approval of the U. S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
I recommend $25 million to support R&D on rail and mass transit security. The security needs and challenges for the open environment of a transit system differ greatly from those of the aviation environment. The Directorate needs additional funding for research and development on projects related explicitly to surface transportation security. Finally, I support funding to institutionalize and expand the primary programs at S&T that directly support the development of homeland security technologies for use by DHS agencies and state and local first responders, and thus recommend an additional $25 million to be allocated among the Directorate’s Transition Thrust and Innovation Thrust Areas and its Testing & Evaluation and Standards Division.
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) plays a critical role in improving the nation’s ability to detect and prevent terrorists’ use of a nuclear or radiological weapon within the United States. The Office should be funded at a level no less than FY 2009 appropriated levels, and within this budget funds should be allocated to address critical gaps in strategic planning and conduct basic and advanced R&D on next-generation nuclear detection technologies, nuclear forensics techniques, and nuclear incident response and recovery technologies.
Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Security
Improvised Explosive Devices: I support an increase in funding for the Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) within the Office of Infrastructure Protection (OIP). Last year, this office received $11 million, an increase of $1 million over the FY 2008 appropriation. While I’m pleased to see this funding increasing, I believe OBP’s budget needs to more than double. In the 110th Congress, HSGAC reported the National Bombing Prevention Act (S. 2292) authorizing $25 million annually for OBP and I recommend that the budget resolution reflect this necessary level of funding. The Office of Bombing Prevention is responsible for coordinating the Department’s efforts to prevent, deter, detect, and respond to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the United States. OBP also provides the majority of the Department’s infrastructure protection training courses for state and local officials and the private sector. The FY 09 funding level of $11 million is simply not sufficient to perform these functions.
Chemical Site Security. I am pleased that the Department continues to move ahead with the critical Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards or CFATS program. This is a critical and long overdue effort to enhance security at facilities, some in or near densely populated areas, that make or use hazardous chemicals and could prove inviting targets for terrorists. As Congress examines how best to reauthorize this program, it is essential that it receive adequate funding to continue the work of soliciting and reviewing facility security plans and beginning site inspections. Last year, DHS saw a significant funding increase for the CFATS program to $73 million, and we need to maintain and expand those resources in the coming fiscal year.
Cyber Security. I support the increase that is proposed in the President’s Budget Overview for the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), which would bring its overall budget to $355 million. As a nation, we continue to be compromised by cyber incidents at an alarming rate and we must respond to this threat. Last year, the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative was implemented to better protect our information networks – bringing a new focus to this critical issue. With the additional resources that the Department received, I have been pleased with how it has been able to expand its capabilities to better monitor federal information systems. Still, with the broad mandate of NCSD, there is much work that remains to be done as the Directorate continues to grow and I believe these funds are critical for NCSD’s success.
Office of Intelligence and Analysis
The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis receives funds under the Analysis and Operations (A&O) account in the DHS budget, which received $327.4 million in FY 2009. The funding details within this account are classified. I recommend that the A&O account receive a moderate increase in FY 2010, to maintain current analytic activities within the Office of Intelligence and Analysis and expand of the DHS State and Local Fusion Center Program by providing DHS analysts to additional fusion centers around the country.
U.S. Census Bureau
I support the Administration’s budget requests $4 billion for conducting the 2010 Decennial Census. As the President stated in his budget proposal, the Decennial Census will entail the hiring of approximately half a million temporary workers, as well as an extensive paid advertising campaign and partnership activities to encourage participation by hard- to-reach populations. The most costly portion of the 2010 Decennial will be the Non-Response Follow Up where the Census sends out temporary workers to follow up in person with non-responding households. According to the Bureau, for every 1% increase in mail response of the Decennial survey by U.S. residents, the Census Bureau will save an estimated $100 million. However, the Bureau faces major challenges in conducting the 2010 Decennial due to various society trends – such as increasing privacy concerns, more non-English speakers, and people residing in makeshift and other nontraditional living arrangements, and a more mobile population – making it harder to find people and get them to participate in the census.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
While the President’s Budget Overview does not have a specific funding level for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), I am hopeful that the Administration intends on increasing its funding, which has not kept pace with the importance of its mission in recent years. The role of the National Archives in protecting and preserving our national heritage continues to be critical – particularly as the number of records it preserves and protects continues to increase exponentially. Furthermore in recent years NARA has received many additional responsibilities, including the creation of Office of Government Information Services to oversee Freedom of Information Act activities government-wide. In 2008, it was designated as the lead agency for the implementation of the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) framework, which is intended to streamline the use of sensitive, unclassified information within the federal government. To sustain the new CUI Office, NARA should receive an additional $2 million in FY 2010.
I also believe that the administration should increase the budget for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) – which supports the efforts of NARA to preserve and publish any material relating to the history of the United States. Last year, this Committee passed the Presidential Historical Records Preservation Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-404) which gave additional responsibilities to the NHPRC to make grants to preserve records of former Presidents, providing online access to the documents of the founding fathers, and create a database for records of servitude, emancipation, and post-civil war reconstruction. I believe these important missions require additional funding for the Commission, to allow it to also continue its important role in protecting the records that define this country.
U.S. Postal Service
The Postal Service continues to experience accelerated declines in mail volume and revenue, primarily due to the current economic crisis. In fiscal year 2008, the Postal Service recorded a loss of $2.8 billion, and it is expected that the Postal Service could lose $6-8 billion, if not more, in the current fiscal year.
I therefore recommend that we consider providing the Postal Service with some sort of financial relief. One option, recommended by the Postal Service (USPS), is to allow USPS to pay its retiree health care premiums for current retirees out of the Retiree Health Benefits Fund (Fund) and not the Postal Service directly, thus changing the governmental source of funding. Currently, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (P.L. 109-435) requires the Postal Service to pre-pay its retiree health benefits obligations for future retirees into the Fund, while it makes payments for current retirees. Thus, changing the source of funding of current retiree health benefits from the Postal Service to the Fund would provide USPS with financial relief during this economic downturn. This is a high priority issue for the Committee.
Office of Federal Procurement Policy
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) within the Office of Management and Budget needs a substantial increase in its budget. Already responsible under statute for forming government-wide policies to guide federal procurement, OFPP also has been tasked by Congress recently to address a range of complex issues, including clarification of the definition of inherently governmental work that may be performed only by federal employees, development of safeguards to prevent conflicts of interest, the drafting of a plan to strengthen the acquisition workforce, prevention of the misuse of interagency contracts, improvement of the transparency of data relating to contracting, and enactment of stricter rules for use of cost-reimbursement contracts. President Obama also has directed OFPP to develop new government-wide guidance to strengthen competition and improve management of federal contracting, which exceeded $532 billion last year and is routinely cited by the Government Accountability Office and the Inspectors General as an area of government operations rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. Currently OFPP is staffed by approximately 14 employees, including administrative support staff. In order to tackle the size and scope of the problems at hand, I recommend that OFPP’s budget be increased to allow, at a minimum, a doubling of its staff.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
The 9/11 Commission recognized that as the U.S. government expands its efforts to fight terrorism, it must take care to safeguard bedrock national protections for personal privacy and civil liberties. In 2004, following the Commission’s recommendation, Congress created the first Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board within the Executive Office of the President. The Board was tasked with providing advice and oversight on anti-terrorism policies. However, the original Board proved neither as robust nor as independent as Congress had envisioned. In 2007, Congress moved to reconstitute the Board as an independent entity outside the Executive Office of the President, and with enhanced powers. That provision, which included a six-month transition period to stand up the new Board, passed as part of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act.
Unfortunately, the last Administration was slow to work with Congress on naming a new board, with the distressing result that we have had no Privacy and Civil Liberties Board at all since early last year. I will call on the new Administration to work with Congress to approve a new Board as soon as possible, and I urge your support for robust funding for its operations. Appropriators have provided $1.5 million in start up money for the Board for the current fiscal year. The authorizing legislation provided $5 million for the Board in its first year, rising to $10 million at full strength. With this in mind, I urge that the Board receive at least $5 million in FY 2010, and more if we can expedite getting the new members in place to use it effectively.
Civilian Employee Pay Parity
For uniformed personnel, the Administration’s FY 2010 Budget includes funding for a 2.9% pay increase, an amount that the Budget summary says will improve their purchasing power. The men and women in our armed forces, who risk their lives for us to defend our nation every day, deserve our gratitude and support, and I fully support this proposal.
I believe that we must equally support our federal civilian employees, who also work tirelessly to secure our homeland and our way of life. Some civilian employees work side-by-side with military personnel, both in battle areas and at training and support locations. Others protect our borders and perform other essential jobs securing our homeland, protecting our health, safety, and environment, addressing the challenges to our financial security, and proudly serving the public in countless other ways. Adequate civilian pay is essential not only for fairness, but also for effective human capital management. An insufficient pay raise would undermine morale at a time when the government faces critical needs to recruit and retain the highly skilled workforce needed to meet essential responsibilities.
However, for civilian employees the Budget provides for a 2.0% pay increase, significantly below the 2.9% for uniformed personnel, explaining that the civilian pay increase is limited in response to the current economic climate. I find this disparity between the level of support for our civilian and military personnel to be disappointing. Accordingly, I plan to work with my colleagues in the Congress and with members of the Obama Administration to see whether we can find our way clear to provide a pay increase for federal employees on a par with that for military personnel – fair compensation that they both deserve because they have earned it by loyal service to our country during these challenging times.
* * * * *
I appreciate this opportunity to comment on issues of concern to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
cc: The Honorable Susan Collins