Hearing of Homeland Security and Governmental Affiairs Committee on Nomination of Hon. Michael P. Jackson to be Deputy Director of U. S. Department of Homeland Security.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR PRYOR
Senator Pryor. Thank you, Madam Chairman, and thank you for being here today. I appreciate, Mr. Jackson, your willingness to serve and step into this.
I have a prepared statement I would like to submit for the record.
[The prepared statement of Senator Pryor follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SENATOR PRYOR
Thank you Madam Chairman and Senator Lieberman for convening this hearing and continuing your bipartisan leadership on this Committee. I also would like to thank your Committee staff for its commendable work in preparing for our many important hearings such as this session today.
Mr. Jackson, good afternoon and thank you for your years of service to your country. I am anticipating an open and in-depth discussion of your background and your ideas for securing our country's safety.
The Department of Homeland Security faces, as part of its challenge of protecting America, a reorganization of over 180,000 men and women. Such a challenge requires great skill in strategic planning, management, and innovation.
Securing our borders and protecting our infrastructure, while preserving our civil liberties are the tasks before you if you are
confirmed. I look forward to hearing how you would accomplish these tasks in the position for which you have been nominated.
Senator Pryor. The way I see this is you have got a unique opportunity and a unique perspective here because you are
really an outsider at the agency. Let me ask this. It is a fairly new agency, a couple of years old or less. From the outside looking in, where do you want to focus your energies at Homeland Security?
Mr. Jackson. Well, the issue is that there are many areas that need focus and so what we are trying to do at the start,
Senator, is to begin with an assessment of how to prioritize what needs to be done. This is something that Secretary
Chertoff has announced internally and that we are beginning to launch. It will involve looking at probably two dozen clusters
of like issues, everything ranging from IT programs, such as we have discussed earlier, to specific policy areas, and then
trying to decide, do we have the organization mapped to meet the needs that we think are the highest priorities?
In this process, we have the National Infrastructure Protection Plan reaching its conclusion, and that will intimate
a strategic allocation of resources and illuminate some of the key problems, as well. So there is much to do on a policy
On an organizational front, we want to take just a quick look and see if we can tweak the system and then proceed ahead.
Senator Pryor. How long do you think it will take you to set those priorities? The concern I have is that could be a never-ending process and----
Mr. Jackson. Yes, sir. This is intended to be 2 months, possibly three at the most for some complex areas. It is intended to be very fast. It certainly mimics a process we used at the Department of Transportation to set up the Transportation Security Administration, which we established some 50 ``go'' teams, who came into being, did their work, made their recommendations, put options on the table, and the boss made the decision. So this is intended to be something animated by a sense of urgency.
Senator Pryor. Based on your responses to those last two questions, can I imply from your answers that you see areas
that can be improved at DHS?
Mr. Jackson. Yes, sir, I absolutely do. I will give you one example that the Secretary has spoken about publicly and which
I surely share, as did Secretary Ridge and Deputy Secretary Loy. We believe that some work to create a policy shop can have
a very substantial integrating function within the Department to help us accelerate and to cast a department-wide perspective
on some of the work done throughout the operating components. So that is just one example of something that I would say is an organizational tool in the tool kit that we can use. There are multiple other such issues to unpack.
Senator Pryor. OK. Let me turn my attention to two specific areas that have gotten a lot of attention in this Committee
over the last couple years. One is the TSA.
Mr. Jackson. Yes, sir.
Senator Pryor. I think it is fair to say that Members of Congress and Members of the Senate were led to believe that
consolidation of inspection functions would not only be more effective, but also more efficient if they were under TSA, but
I am not sure I am seeing any cost savings there and I am not sure it has lived up to its promise. Do you have a comment on
Mr. Jackson. Well, I think TSA is an absolutely vital part of the force that we throw against the issues we are worried
about in counterterrorism. Are they perfect? No. Have they done a good job? I think, yes. When you see what we moved from in the old system, which was owned by the airlines and which you could come and in half a day become a screener with very little subsequent oversight, testing, or examination of performance, we have made dramatic strides. We have some terrific people out there in the field.
Is it good enough yet? No. Can technology help us make some significant improvements? Yes. In the cargo screening, is this an area where we need further work? Absolutely, we do.
I would not want to be a Pollyanna about it, but I wouldn't want to cause you to be prematurely anxious about the direction
that we are taking. There is much to do, for sure, but I can tell you there are just literally thousands of people working
their hearts out to do the right thing, and if we support them and give them the right vision, the right tools, the right
equipment to do their job, they are going to be a phenomenally important part of this Department, and they are already.
Senator Pryor. Great. The last thing I have is that you actually, I think, anticipated my question about port security.
I know Senator Levin asked about it a few moments ago and also Chairman Collins over the last couple years--can I use the word ``grill''? You grilled witnesses on port security? [Laughter.]
She has had ``discussions''---- [Laughter.]
About port security issues with witnesses, and justifiably so, and I think she is right on that. You have mentioned
containers with me and with Senator Levin and maybe others, but it sounds to me like you are not satisfied with port security.
Mr. Jackson. I am not satisfied, and you are probably not ever going to see me, if I am confirmed in this position, to be
satisfied and over with any of the progress that we are going to make. It is a commitment. It is not just a buzzword to say
continuous innovation is how we stay ahead of the game.
That being said, I do think that if you disaggregate the container security issues into both land issues, as Senator
Levin rightly points out, and land interfaces and sea interfaces, then you see that there are tools within that for
further unpacking. If you take the port issues, there is the security of the facilities themselves, many of which are
privately owned, and there is the waterside support that the Coast Guard provides and the look at vessels and mariners
coming in. There is the screening of the containers themselves, which CBP has the significant responsibility for.
So it is a so-called system of systems that we have to put in place, both on the land and the marine side, and continue to
work each of those component parts so that they are a interlocking whole that strengthens the system that we have. It
is a multidimensional puzzle that has to be worked at every dimension.
Senator Pryor. Thank you, Madam Chairman.