Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 16, 2009

Homeland Security This Week

Filed under: Events — by Philip J. Palin on March 16, 2009

Following are selected Homeland Security events for this week.  Please access the links for more information on time, place, and purpose. Please use the comment function to add other events you would like to be covered in the days ahead.  Professional commitments this week will limit my ability to follow these events closely.  If you are attending these hearings or other functions, please consider contributing a report to HLSwatch.

Monday, March 16

2:00 pm  Secretary Napolitano addresses the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference.

Tuesday, March 17

10:00 am House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Communications, Preparedness and Response: Hearing on Post Katrina Emergency Management Act implementation.

10:00 am House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Homeland Security: Hearing on Interoperable Communications.

10:30 Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crimes and Drugs: Hearing on Law Enforcement Response to Mexico-based Drug Cartels

Wednesday, March 18

10:00 am House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment: Hearing on Homeland Security Intelligence and Its Relevance and Limitations

2:00 pm House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection: Hearing on 100 Percent Air Cargo Screening, Can We Secure America’s Skies?

2:30 pm Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery: Hearing on a subcommittee report entitled: A New Way Home

Thursday, March 19

10:00 am House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Border Maritime and Global Counterterrorsim: Hearing on Human Trafficking: Recent Trends

10:00 am House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Homeland Security: Hearing on Biometric Identification

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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 16, 2009 @ 10:27 am

Oversight activity is generally helpful. What is interesting is whether under Republicans or Democratic leadership the House Homeland Security Committee and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs has yet to agree on much since 9/11. Real question is why? The only saving factor has been the fact that each years annual DHS appropriation bill has acted de facto as an authorization. But what also is interesting is the few really informative hearings held in oversight capacity and the fact that so little information helpful to the interested public is made available by both committees–example–comprehensive listing of all statutes and executive orders administered by DHS at least in part and also results of reports Congressionally mandated when delivered and who actually participated and wrote them—the theory of our democracy (Republic) is that the interested public has a right to know but not really honored by these committees. Again odd issues continue to debilitate DHS such as the clash of cultures between the majority gun-toters and badge carriers vis a vis the adminstrative-grant making types and researchers. Personally I think the DOD culture of non-accountabiliy was transferred almost wholesale to DHS in key positions but even if wrong would be interesting to see how many staffers are former DOD or former Coast Guard. A second career agency despite the best of intentions usually does not get the long experienced and up through the ranks career employees necessary for it to be exemplary in performance. It may be too soon to tell but it is clear that DHS major clients and supporters are its contractors who once contract ended have no interest or continuinty until the next contract, if ever. A thorough study of what programs, functions, or activities in DHS are “Inherently Governmental” should be mandated by Congress and staffed with the best and brightest across all programs, functions, and activities at DHS. Perhaps NAPA (National Academy of Public Adminstration) could help. Also where is the QHSR effort centered and who is in charge?

Comment by Charlie Jasonberg

March 16, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

One of the GMU CIP reports investigated the 85% claim for the water sector. It used EPA and other data, and learned that 61% of the water sector was owned by the private sector, with 28% owned by local governments.

So, the % will vary from industry-to-industry.


Comment by Samuel H. Clovis, Jr.

March 16, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

I used to work in the information assurance and infrastucture protection directorate as one of those suspect contractors, and even in 2003 we were having trouble getting our heads around exactly what should be considered “critical” infrastructure. We asked that the states identify what they thought should be considered critical infrastructure, and most of the reporting from the states actually put a private or public label on what was being considered. For example, in the state of Iowa, some 93% of the sites and assets identified were owned by the private sector. This was fairly typical. However, this does not address the question.

The qualifications for what is critical or what isn’t should be addressed. One suspects that much of what was identified was what would be hard to replace, not what would bring the machinery of government or the private economy to a halt. I am sure we have a lot of critical infrastructure, but who owns it is less important that what it is and where it is. If it’s truly critical, then we ought to be able to work something out on who is responsible for taking care of it. When one includes everything in the critical infrastructure mix and if everything is critical, then nothing is critical, because we cannot possibly secure it all.

I think we need a new lexicon for a great deal of the homeland security work. For example, is there a difference between events of national significance and events of national interest? Events of national significance should be those events that have an enduring impact on the economy or the continuity of government. These events should be part of the planning landscape and should be considered in figuring out if prevention and protection might not be better options than worrying about response and recovery. Events of national interest are just that–those events that make the national news and become part of the news cycle. These events, as heartrending as they may be, are not show-stoppers. With resources as limited as they are, we need to focus on those things that truly impact the economy and continuity of business/government.

There is a lot more to be said about this topic, but I will save that for future entries.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 16, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

Just note for the record that the Stafford Act authorizes the President to rebuild critical infrastrucure without regard to an existing appropriation. No implementing regulations ever published for that authority. Arguably used to reconstruct Murrah Building replacement in part. Those interested in informal relatively up-to-date version of Stafford Act welcome to contact me with request off-line at vacationlanegrp@aol.com Requests will be processed as timely as possible.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 16, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

Section referenced in my comment above see following:

(42 U.S.C. 5170c)
SEC. 405. (a) The President may authorize any Federal agency to repair, reconstruct, restore, or replace any facility owned by the United States and under the jurisdiction of such agency which is damaged or destroyed by any major disaster if he determines that
such repair, reconstruction, restoration, or replacement is of such importance and urgency that it cannot reasonably be deferred pending the enactment of specific authorizing legislation or the making of an appropriation for such purposes, or the obtaining of congressional committee approval.
(b) In order to carry out the provisions of this section, such repair,reconstruction, restoration, or replacement may be begun notwithstanding a lack or an insufficiency of funds appropriated for such purpose, where such lack or insufficiency can be remedied by
the transfer, in accordance with law, of funds appropriated to that agency for another purpose.
(c) In implementing this section, Federal agencies shall evaluate the natural hazards to which these facilities are exposed and shall take appropriate action to mitigate such hazards, including
safe land-use and construction practices, in accordance with standards prescribed by the President.

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