DHS redo

Chertoff's plan for change<@SM>gains support on Capitol Hill<@VM>What will go where under the DHS reorganization

Impending changes at the Homeland Security Department likely will energize its reorganization and reshape its funding priorities.

The changes, proposed by DHS officials and Congress, will affect the department's IT in ways ranging from more tightly consolidating lines of authority under Secretary Michael Chertoff, to elevating the visibility of cybersecurity and highlighting systems used to prepare for national emergencies.

Together, the organizational legislation and the administrative realignment will implement large parts of Chertoff's second-stage review of homeland security policy.

Chertoff outlined the reorganization plan in a seven-page letter to House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) and other senior lawmakers. Chertoff's reorganization powers flow from Section 872 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which grants DHS broad realignment authority.

"DHS continues to face difficulties integrating operations at the borders and across components," Chertoff said in the letter. The department needs a mechanism by which he can "translate policy and intelligence into immediate action across all of the department's components," he said.

The second-stage review plan also requires passage of legislation the administration has drafted. The four-page bill focuses on changes in titles as well as creating and eliminating organizations in the department.Early signals from Capitol Hill indicate that the reorganization legislation will gain quick approval.

Cox praised Chertoff's plan, and Chertoff said DHS officials had adopted some of the ideas favored by Cox's committee.

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on economic security, infrastructure protection and cybersecurity, said the administration's plan to create an assistant secretary for cybersecurity would help protect critical private and government systems.

One of DHS' spending watchdogs, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security, called the restructuring "a welcome change."

Meanwhile, the department's appropriations bill was headed for a House-Senate conference to iron out differences between the two chambers' versions of HR 2360. The Senate passed the spending bill May 17, and the Senate followed suit July 14.

The House bill cleared total discretionary spending of $30.85 billion. The Senate approved $30.8 billion, both about $1.2 billion more than the administration had asked for.

Congress scratched one of the administration's most sweeping proposals for DHS reorganization, which would have created a centralized Screening and Coordination Office to run programs for detecting hazardous cargo and dangerous people entering the country. The White House had asked for $526 million for the Screening and Coordination Office, but neither chamber approved money for it.

Instead, the two chambers' appropriations bills leave spending on targeting projects tied to the administrative organizations and programs that use the related intelligence and technology.

But a key component of the Screening and Coordination Office, the U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology program, likely will do well in the appropriations process. The House cleared $390 million for U.S. Visit, and the Senate approved $340 million, an amount equal to last year's appropriation. The administration had requested about $390 million for the program.

The Senate took a harsher view of the department's office of the chief information officer than either the House or the administration. The lower chamber passed the administration request of $340 million for CIO office operations, but the Senate pared the total figure to $286.5 million. The CIO office received $275.3 million last year.

The Customs and Border Protection agency's massive Automated Commercial Environment systems upgrade for tariff and cargo processes so far has escaped serious damage in the budget process. Both chambers cleared the administration request of $321.7 million. In addition, they agreed to the administration's request to add $8.1 million to an account supporting the legacy tariff and border processing system by clearing the administration's $136.3 million request for the Automated Commercial System program.

Congress looked kindly on the administration's $53 million request for the MaxHR human resources system program, making it a separate line item for the first time and passing the entire request.

The House and Senate seemed willing to put more muscle behind DHS' central procurement operation, for which the administration had requested $7.4 million. Both upped that figure to $9 million.

CBP's technology-heavy Automated Targeting Systems program appears likely to take a small cut. The center received $29.8 million this year. Both the Senate and the House cleared 2006 appropriations of $28.3 million, or about $1.5 million less.

CBP's National Targeting Center, a clearinghouse for threat information, got a slight bump up from this year's appropriated amount of $16.1 million to a 2006 appropriation of $16.7 million, equal to the administration's request.

Deep in the appropriations process, Congress increased funding for the little-noticed Atlas/Chimera program, a project to improve connectivity among department systems. The administration requested $40.2 million, an amount the House approved. The Senate added $10 million to the kitty, leaving the two chambers to wrangle over the Senate proposal of $50.2 million.

The Coast Guard didn't sail through unscathed. This year, the service received $6.4 billion in discretionary funds, and the administration asked for $6.9 billion for 2006. However, the House approved only $6.4 billion and the Senate recommended $6.8 billion. Much of the reduction came in the administration's $966 million Integrated Deepwater systems program request, the funding for which the House reduced to $500 million and the Senate cut to $905.6 million.

Mandatory spending, such as expenditures on Coast Guard pensions, also affects the top line DHS budget figures, as do emergency appropriations, fund transfers and fee revenue. But discretionary spending is the true apples-to-apples comparison of the appropriations amounts. *

Wilson P. Dizard III is a senior writer with Government Computer News. He can be reached at wdizard@.com.
The administration has drafted legislation needed to implement Secretary Michael Chertoff's second-stage review plan to shake up the Homeland Security Department. The bill likely will be introduced soon by a member of Congress, officials said.

The draft bill creates the position of undersecretary for policy and a new Policy Directorate.

The draft legislation eliminates the Border and Transportation Security Directorate and the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.

The assistant secretary for the Transportation Security Administration will become the TSA director under the bill. The assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement will become the commissioner of ICE. The commissioner of Customs will become the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. All three positions will report directly to the DHS secretary.

The undersecretary for emergency preparedness and response will become the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Other changes proposed by Chertoff do not need legislative approval under section 872 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

He outlined his changes in a July 13 letter to Congress.

According to the letter, the changes are designed to centralize and strengthen policy development, improve sharing of intelligence and information, bolster operational efficiency and upgrade preparedness.

A newly created Policy Office will speed planning by absorbing several organizations:

* International Affairs Office

* Special assistant to the secretary for private sector coordination

* Two Border and Transportation Security policy offices

* Homeland Security Advisory Committee

* Immigration Statistics Office.

The Policy Office also will include a new strategic arm and a refugee policy coordinator.

A new Intelligence and Analysis Office will coalesce under the leadership of a new chief intelligence officer, who will also be the assistant secretary for information analysis. The new office will coordinate more than 10 existing intelligence offices.

The new Operations Coordination Office will oversee the Homeland Security Operations Center and assume the control functions of the former Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

The new Preparedness Directorate will consolidate work now distributed across three separate components. An undersecretary will lead the directorate, which is to include the former Infrastructure Protection agency, a new chief medical officer, a Cyber Security and Telecommunications Office, FEMA's Fire Administration and additional programs for state and local government preparedness.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center will be removed from the former Border and Transportation Security Directorate and become a freestanding entity reporting to Chertoff.

The Transportation Security Administration will regain authority over the Federal Air Marshal Service, which formerly was in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs office will gain new authority to deal with state and local governments.

The Security Office no longer will report to the deputy secretary, but instead to the undersecretary for management.

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