Senator Carper Applauds Senate Passage of NDAA with Critical DHS Priorities

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, applauded Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes funding for the U.S. Department of Defense. The final bill also includes provisions from the DHS Accountability Act of 2016 that Senator Carper has co-sponsored and long fought to pass. The Senate approved the legislation by a vote of 92 to 7.

“The Senate has come together to approve this year’s critically important National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which ensures that our troops have the resources necessary to help keep our country and our citizens safe,” said Senator Carper. “This final bill makes important investments to support the men and women serving in our Armed Forces, strengthen our military capabilities, bolster our nation’s cyber defenses, and takes further steps to counter the ever-evolving threats to our national security.”

Senator Carper also applauded the inclusion of provisions from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Accountability Act of 2016 which will make long-sought changes to Department of Homeland Security operations through improved accountability and transparency while supporting continued efforts to bring cohesion to the department. The DHS Accountability Act was unanimously approved by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 25, 2016.

Senator Carper continued, “I’m especially pleased that the final version of the NDAA approved today includes incredibly important provisions from the DHS Accountability Act of 2016. This bipartisan, common sense legislation makes smart improvements to management and operations at DHS, including a number of Secretary Jeh Johnson’s top legislative priorities that we have been working together on for more than two years. The legislation will support Secretary Johnson’s ‘Unity of Effort’ initiative through the authorization of Joint Task Forces, which will help ensure that the department’s components are working more closely together and carrying out more coordinated operations. It will also strengthen key leadership positions at the department to help ensure steps are being taken to improve management deficiencies highlighted in the GAO High Risk List. These long-sought improvements will have a lasting impact on the operations of the Department of Homeland Security for years to come, and I am grateful for the partnership of both Secretary Johnson and Chairman Ron Johnson to finally get this crucial legislation across the finish line.”

Provisions included in the National Defense Authorization Act make the following changes: 

  • Authorizes use of Joint Task Forces at DHS, strengthening the department’s coordination and efforts to address homeland security challenges, including the interdiction of illicit drugs;
  • Strengthens coordination at the department by establishing an Office of Strategy Policy and Plans to be led by an Undersecretary;
  • Designates the Under Secretary for Management to serve as Acting Secretary if neither the Secretary nor Deputy Secretary is available and authorizes the Secretary to designate other officers in succession to serve as Acting Secretary;
  • Revises the definition of management integration and transformation in the Homeland Security Act and requires DHS to report to GAO every six months on the status of the department’s planned actions for removal from the GAO High Risk List;
  • Strengthens responsibilities for the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) and requires the CHCO to develop strategic workforce planning policies and performance measures to evaluate the planning efforts by the DHS components;
  • Requires FEMA to initiate a study to determine the feasibility of gathering data on the use of Federal grant awards greater than $5,000 and report to Congress on the results of the study;
  • Requires the Secretary to maintain a list of research and development projects at the department, including details for such projects and provide the information to the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees;
  • Requires the President to review known instances of travel or attempted travel to the conflict zone in Iraq or Syria since 2011 and provide the information to the appropriate congressional committees;
  • Directs the President to submit to Congress a national strategy to combat terrorist travel. Further, the President shall direct the head of relevant Federal agencies to develop implementation plans and provide a report to Congress;
  • Makes modifications to the structure, operation and organization of the National Operations Center at DHS.