I wrote a series of topical posts earlier in the week about the FY 2007 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. This post completes that analysis (for now), adding some comments on a few items in the budget that are worthy of further attention. My attention will shift in the coming weeks to the appropriations hearings on the DHS budget, which should reveal additional details in key areas.
1. The budget request proposes $10m for an office of chemical site security in the Preparedness Directorate. According to the DHS Budget-in-Brief, the office will “classify facilities into risk-based tiers, establish security standards for each tier, and ensure strong safeguards are in place to protect the public disclosure of any sensitive information gathered by the office.”
This sounds a lot like the proposal in the Collins-Lieberman chemical security bill for an office to oversee enforcement of chemical security regulations. Does the inclusion of this line item imply that DHS now endorses this bill? If so, let’s get it passed tomorrow. Time is wasting.
2. The budget request contains relatively minor funding ($8.2m) for renovation of the DHS HQ on Nebraska Avenue, but nothing that would solve their office space woes. Right now, the senior leadership of DHS is spread out all over DC and northern Virginia. A lot of time is being wasted by the fact that members of the senior DHS team are stuck in traffic, shuttling between meetings. By contrast, the FBI seems to have carte blanche for construction spending:
For 2007, the FBI is proposing $51.392 million to enhance its Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) infrastructure, provide initial funding for the Center for Intelligence Training, and fund an interim facility for the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). The SCIF funding ($33.191 million) will provide the FBI with additional secure space in which to analyze highly classified intelligence and share this information among intelligence personnel within the FBI and other government partners. The funding for the Center for Intelligence Training ($6.311 million) will support an Architectural and Engineering study for a new facility that will allow the FBI to better train its growing cadre of intelligence personnel. Finally, the funding for interim HRT space ($11.890 million) will allow the FBI to undertake much-needed space improvements in support of its crisis response programs, while considering longer-term housing options.
It’s time for Congress to think seriously about a permanent and appropriately-sized HQ for DHS, located inside the Beltway.
3. Last week, a number of homeland security think tank-ers wrote a letter to Sec. Chertoff which suggested that funding for the newly-created DHS policy office was inadequate, and argued for the following measures:
The letter called on Chertoff to expand Bakerâ€™s policy office by at least 25 staff members and to fill all existing personnel slots quickly by reprogramming funds if possible. They also urged Chertoff to seek funding for the policy office, including its contractors and travel, in the fiscal 2007 budget.
The Budget-in-Brief provides details on plans to expand the policy office as follows:
Office of Policy …… $8.053M (15 FTE)
An increase of $8.053 million is requested to provide funding to establish the Committee on Foreign Owned Investments in the United States under the Policy Office, expand the duties of the International Affairs Office, coordinate development of policy on key immigration issues, and enhance capabilities of the Homeland Security Advisory Committee (HSAC) to better work with private sector stakeholders.
I’m not sure what this “Committee on Foreign Owned Investments in the United States” is supposed to be – there are zero Google hits for it at present. Perhaps they meant the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which is a long-standing committee run by the US Treasury Department. DHS participates in the CFIUS interagency working group, but I don’t understand why there would be any reason to establish a new office in DHS for this.
Overall, it’s good to see that DHS wants to increase the size of the policy office in FY 2007. But that’s too long to wait. I agree with the sentiment expressed in the aforementioned letter about the need to reprogram funds to strengthen the policy office today.