House adds $2.1B to DHS '08 funding

The House Homeland Security Committee this week approved legislation that authorizes $2.1 billion more than the White House request for the Homeland Security Department in fiscal 2008.

The bill, which would provide $39.8 billion in fiscal 2008 funding for the department, strengthens oversight, policy and procurement, said Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

"It establishes greater oversight of the department; brings more transparency and accountability in the department's procurement activities; provides the department's workforce with the resources, training and respect they deserve; and enhances strategic planning throughout the department," he said.

The authorization bill sets up a new Policy Directorate, strengthens the Office of the Inspector General and creates a four-year review process for the overall mission of the department. It also establishes a new training program for procurement managers, allows DHS to bring in retired procurement officers and enhances the small business mentoring program, Thompson said.

DHS spends a substantial portion of its budget on contractors, Thompson said: 43 percent in 2005 and 40 percent in 2006.

"We need assurances that the department gets what it pays for and that the procurement process is open and fair," Thompson said.

In an amendment from Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., the committee approved by voice vote to prohibit the transfer of the visitor identification system for the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology project to the new National Protection and Programs Directorate until the department submits an exit strategy to Congress for tracking when visitors leave the country.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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