Hearing Of The Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity And Science And Technology Subcommittee Of The House Homeland Security Committee - The Fiscal Year 2010 Budget For The Directorate For Science And Technology, The Office Of Health Affairs, And The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Chaired By: Rep. Yvette Clarke
Witnesses: Brad Buswell, Acting Under Secretary, Dhs Science And Technology Directorate; Chuck Gallaway, Acting Director, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office; Dr. Jon Krohmer, Acting Assistant Secretary And Chief Medical Officer, Office Of Health Affairs
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REP. YVETTE D. CLARKE (D-NY): This subcommittee will come to order.
This subcommittee is meeting today to receive testimony of the FY 2010 budget for the Directorate for Science and Technology, the Office of Health Affairs, and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.
Good afternoon. I welcome my witnesses today and thank them for their service to our country. I will keep my comments brief this afternoon so we can get to the questioning period. We are here today to discuss the president's fiscal year 2010 budget request for the Science and Technology Directorate, the Office of Health Affairs, and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, three critical components of the Homeland Security mission.
We have watched all three of these offices grow over the years. Some have come far in the maturation process. Others have some work left to do. Along the way, this committee has offered praise and criticism of the performance of these offices, as well as recommendations for improvement. It is our duty and obligation to do so. But never forget that in spite of our occasional disagreements, we are all in the same team working toward the same goals.
We find ourselves at a critical time in the department's history. This is particularly true for each of the offices you represent. This year, each of your offices faces a significant question that strikes at the heart of its mission area. For S&T, will new leadership keep the IPT process and division of R&D funding established by the previous undersecretary? For DNDO, are the benefits gained from deploying ASP worth the money? For Health Affairs, should the office expand beyond its critical role as a policy shop and become involved in operational activities?
Each is a difficult question to answer. Fortunately, you will not have to answer it alone. In the weeks ahead, new leadership teams will be in place. We hope that they will reach out to this committee to resolve these and other questions. Today, I ask that your testimony and responses to the members' questions provide the committee with some early answers about the direction that each of your offices will take.
For its own part, the committee will soon be considering authorization language that pertains to some of the issues that we will discuss today. I also anticipate holding additional hearings on some of these matters. These efforts are designed to fulfill the Department's mission of protecting the American people, and I look forward to working with each of you in achieving that goal.
Thanks to you and to the thousands of men and women serving at the department for the work that you do.
The chair now recognizes the ranking member, Mr. Lungren of California, of the subcommittee, for an opening statement.
REP. DANIEL E. LUNGREN (R-CA): Thank you very much, Chairwoman Clarke.
I could not agree more that the important role of science and technology is necessary in achieving the department's mission of securing our homeland. Strong science and technology portfolio helps us understand the emerging threats and how to identify counter and mitigate them. Better technology expands our screening capabilities and frees our agents to focus their efforts where they are most needed, to improve our security.
Technology also helps us in consequence management so we are better prepared to respond to a natural disaster or terrorist incident. The S&T Directorate is requesting $968.4 million in FY 2010. I believe that's about a 3.8 percent increase over the 2009 funding levels. I hope that this funding level is sufficient to maintain our technical superiority in science and technology. I'd like to compliment the S&T Directorate for adopting their new strategic approach to better identify, enable and transition new capabilities to your science and technology customers and to thereby improve homeland security.
This new approach creates customer-led capstone integrated product teams in 12 functional areas. These integrated product teams allows the directorate to identify the highest priority needs and allocate resources to those programs that support the priorities established by the DHS customers. I believe this is a welcome management improvement for all companies attempting to develop technology solutions for our homeland security needs.
I'd like to highlight for a moment the pending project in S&T's Borders and Maritime division, which includes building, demonstrating, and transitioning the first phase of improved capabilities for detecting the semi-submersible self-propelled vessels. Last year, I was privileged to work with then Senator Joe Biden and others to enact the new criminal statute which allows the Coast Guard to seize the operators of these South American drug-running vessels and prosecute them, even if the vessel is scuttled and the drug evidence is lost.
As we know, these are very difficult vessels to spot and capture in open waters, and any technology that improves detection will help us stop these drug vessels from delivering their deadly cargo into the U.S. I note that the Washington Post had a front-page article on this, this week, in which they indicated that not only is this capable of bringing drugs into this country, but could possibly be a delivery system for terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. So it is a priority because we realize with our past experience how difficult it has been for us to identify these semi-submersible self-propelled vessels.
I end this point to see that no new funding for the national biodefense architecture is being requested and that only a million dollars was appropriated from the $2 million that was requested in 2009. The federal government lacks, in my judgment, an overarching biodefense strategy in spite of spending $50 billion over the last eight years on biodefense.
I just happened to look down and see the national biodefense architecture, NBA. Maybe if we paid as much attention to this NBA as we do the other, NBA we'd be further along and the costs would be appropriate to the challenges that we have. I think we need a better understanding and coordination of these enormous government biodefense expenditures.
In regard to the fiscal year 2010 DNDO budget request, I am concerned that two of the most critical programs to protect our citizens from the gravest threat, a nuclear attack, are facing technical difficulties in funding shortages. The chair lady has already made reference to the ASP program. I'd like to make reference to it too because as we know it is designed to improve our U.S. radiation detection by identifying radiological materials and limiting false alarms at land, air, and sea ports. These machines are undergoing final testing before the Homeland Security secretary must certify their performance and approve their purchase.
So while it has been much delayed, I am hopeful that the ASP certification process will ensure a significant improvement in our future radiation portal monitoring efforts. Now, let me make it clear. I am not suggesting that they be certified if they can't be certified. What I am hoping is that with all the investment we have made, with all the practice that we have done, that we have reached that point where certification can be made, and we can utilize them in ways that we have envisioned in the past.
The Securing the Cities initiative is not being funded in fiscal year 2010. I know you've heard from some people about this, including the ranking Republican in full committee. The funding decrease is the result of the three-year New York City pilot project, which concluded the objective of this initiative, as I understand it, is to prevent a RAD or NUC attack on high-risk metropolitan areas by enhancing the regional capabilities to detect and interdict radiological threats. Although remaining 2009 funds, as I understand it, will continue the STC funding into 2010, the STC future will depend solely on new funding from the city. I believe that it was important for my ranking member for us to mention this, and I would hope that we would take a serious look at it.
So Madame Chairwoman, as important as this hearing is, I would hope the majority will work to produce an authorization bill this year for the entire Homeland Security department. And I want to thank the three gentlemen that are before us for their service to the country and their future service to the country. And I thank you, Madame Chair, for having this hearing.
REP. CLARKE: Other members of the subcommittee are reminded that under the committee rules opening statements may be submitted for the record. And I'd like to thank my colleagues for participating in today's hearing on the FY 2010 budget.
I want to welcome our panelists at this time.
Mr. Brad Buswell is the Acting Under Secretary of the Science and Technology Directorate. Welcome.
Dr. Jon Krohmer is the Acting Secretary and Chief Medical Officer for the Office of Health Affairs. We welcome you.
And to Dr. Chuck Gallaway, the Acting Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. Welcome.
Without objection, the witnesses' full statement will be inserted in the record. I now ask you to introduce yourselves and summarize your testimony for five minutes, beginning with Mr. Buswell.
MR. BRAD BUSWELL: Well thank you very much and good afternoon, Chairwoman Clarke, Ranking Member Lungren, and other distinguished members of the committee. I am honored to appear before you here today in my acting role as Under Secretary for Science and Technology. My real title is Deputy Under Secretary, but, and as you've said, we'll have some new leadership hopefully in place in a few weeks, and then I'll go back to being the deputy as opposed to the acting under secretary.
Delighted to be here to update the committee on the progress of the Science and Technology Directorate and highlight the president's budget request for Fiscal Year 2010, and tell you how I think that that will further our effort.
First, let me say that I am grateful for the immediate and strong leadership of Secretary Napolitano. Over the past month she has consistently emphasized the importance of science and technology in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of all of our missions across the department. I value the opportunity that her support represents, and accept the accompanying responsibility. I'm also very appreciative of the leadership of this committee in support of the directorate's endeavors. The informed counsel of committee members and staff has been critical to the department's success in positioning the S&T Directorate for success in the near term and in the future.
The committee is familiar with the directorate's efforts over the past two years to reorganize and restructure the research portfolio and the business operations in order to expedite the delivery of technology to our customers. I am proud to report that these efforts have been successful, and the directorate is delivering products across the spectrum of Homeland Security missions.
As the ranking member mentioned, we are successfully using our maturing 12 capstone integrated product teams to identify the highest priority technology needs of our operating components and have added a thirteenth integrated product team focused on the needs of the state and local first responders. The FY '10 budget request includes $12 million in support of this thirteenth IPT.
Within the innovation portfolio operated by Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency, HSARPA, we are demonstrating exciting, innovative solutions to homeland security challenges. This budget request includes an $11 million increase in the innovation portfolio over last year's appropriations in order to maintain the momentum of this exciting portfolio and allow us to have a couple of new starts. I think having proven its value, I am specifically asking for this committee and the Congress's support in sustaining that request for this budget item.
The budget request also includes a substantial increase in the investment in air cargo screening, research in support of TSA's statutory screening mandate and other research to protect against the use of improvised explosive devices in mass transit and other settings. Additionally, this budget request includes the $37 million request for cyber security research and development, which is nearly triple the budget request from only three years ago.
So, in conclusion, Madame Chairwoman, I want to say again that I am honored to be here. I am also honored to serve with the highly professional scientists and technologists and the other professionals that support them in our shared mission of delivering technological capabilities to the homeland security enterprise to defend our nation and our freedom. And I am looking forward to working with the committee to ensure the continued success in both the near term and the long term. And I thank you for the opportunity to appear. I look forward to answering your questions.
REP. CLARKE: Thank you, Mr. Buswell.
Dr. Krohmer, you are recognized for five minutes.
DR. JON KROHMER: Thank you, Madame Chairwoman. Ranking Member Lungren, members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the president's FY '10 budget request for the Office of Health Affairs. OHA is beginning its third year in operation. We have accomplished much in a relatively short period of time, but as you indicated, have a lot that we still need to work on.
Let me say first how much we really appreciate the support of this committee and its staff. As a result of your support the department is better able to protect the health of the American people and our DHS work force. I am happy to report on the progress that OHA has made as the department's lead in safeguarding the nation against threats of bio-terrorist attacks and pandemics, as well as the lead in the integration of our nation's medical preparedness capabilities and the protection of the health and safety of the department's workforce.
Today, in OHA, we have a workforce of nearly 250 dedicated individuals devoted to our mission and to our role as the department's principal authority for medical and health security issues. Acts of biological terrorism and pandemic have the potential to cause significant harm to the nation in terms of loss of life, economic costs, and damage to critical infrastructure. We in OHA are focused on preventing acts of terrorism and outbreaks of disease from becoming national catastrophes.
As such, one of our areas of focus is the early detection and rapid identification of biological incidents. To that end, OHA's BioWatch program provides a capability for early detection and warning of a biological attack in our nation's high-risk urban areas. Early detection is critical to the deployment of effective medical countermeasures. A one-day delay in treatment of an anthrax exposure has the potential to result in thousands of deaths.
OHA is working to shorten the critical time lapse between agent release and detection through the procurement and deployment of automated detection equipment. The goal is to complete all testing and evaluation in early FY '11.
Until Generation 3 is fully operational, though, it is imperative that the nation maintain the operation of Generation 1 and 2 detection units. Without these detectors, the nation has no ability to detect biological attacks until individuals start to show clinical symptoms. And by then, we will have lost valuable time and the ability to effectively employ medical countermeasures to prevent needless deaths.
I also want to recognize the contributions in the National Biosurveillance Integration Center, or NBIC, which the secretary placed under the authority of OHA at the beginning of FY '07. NBIC was re-established as the entity where federal departments and agencies come together to monitor and analyze information for potential biological threats by integrating and analyzing data from human, animal, plant, food, and environmental monitoring systems. NBIC will continue to provide the visual, analytic and decision support capabilities of the biological common operating picture, and plans to upgrade data sharing services, access additional data resources, and offer proper data protection for all NBIC partners.
OHA has made significant strides in protecting the department's workforce. Our Office of Component Services is developing strategies, policies, and requirements for a department-wide occupational medicine and health program for workforce protection and for medical oversight of DHS EMS activities. OHA also has a cadre of medical readiness professionals and food, agricultural, and veterinary experts who are participating in end-to-end contingency planning for bioterrorism and other catastrophic scenarios.
OHA played a critical role in the recent 2009 H1N1 outbreak. Upon initial report of the H1N1 cases, we stood up a decision support cell to serve the national operations center. The Office of Component Services collaborated with DHS components to inventory their countermeasure stockpiles, determine needs, and deploy additional countermeasures, especially to border areas.
NBIC supported the federal lead agencies with specific cross- domain analysis related to H1N1 and generated comprehensive daily status reports. And BioWatch contract support in 27 public health laboratories provided surge support for laboratory sample analysis.
The OHA structure is fully integrated with the pillars of biodefense, providing important contributions to threat awareness, surveillance and detection, prevention and protection, and response and recovery. Although OHA is relatively small in size, it is critical in its mission. The program dollars we receive are essential to give our dedicated personnel the resources necessary to vigorously protect the health of the department and of the nation.
It has been my pleasure to serve in this office for nearly three years. Again, I thank you for your support of the critical role that OHA plays in the department's mission to secure our nation. And I look forward to continuing our work with you. Thank you.
REP. CLARKE: Thank you, Dr. Krohmer.
Dr. Gallaway, you are recognized for five minutes.
DR. CHARLES R. GALLAWAY: Good afternoon, Chairwoman Clarke, Ranking Member Lungren, and distinguished members of the committee. As acting director of DHS's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, I'd like to thank the committee for the opportunity to discuss radiological and nuclear detection, and to highlight the work we are pursuing. I'd like to express my gratitude to the committee for its support of our mission to reduce the risk of radiological and nuclear terrorism to the nation.
Since DNDO was formed just over four years ago, we have made significant strides in improving the nation's capability to detect rad/nuc sources in containerized cargo. Working with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, we have employed radiation portal monitors to a majority of seaports and land border crossings, resulting in scanning of 98 percent of all incoming containers. We are working to achieve 100 percent by finishing the remainder of the deployments along the northern border by the end of this year, matching what we have already accomplished on the southern border.
Additionally, we are moving to other previously unaddressed cargo challenges, including on-dock rail, international rail, and air cargo. We have made substantial investments in the development of the next generation portal monitor known as the advanced spectroscopic system, or ASP. ASP technology will significantly improve our ability to correctly identify and interdict smuggled nuclear material and offer the ability to automatically sort threat materials from naturally occurring radioactive material. This should reduce the number of alarms due to innocent radioactive sources, alarms that currently consume large amounts of CBP officers' time.
The ASP units are currently undergoing an extensive test and evaluation campaign. The successful completion of this testing, along with other analysis and consultation with the National Academy of Sciences, will then inform the secretary's certification of ASP performance this Fall.
You have probably noted that in the department's FY '10 budget request, there is no funding request for systems acquisition. In FY '10 we will continue to carry out the joint CBP, DNDO deployment strategy, using the unobligated funds from previous years to procure current generation RPMs. Following a successful outcome of secretarial certification, prior year funds would be used to procure a mix of current generation and ASP systems. If certification does not occur, these remaining unobligated funds will continue to be used to pursue current generation systems.
Another key objective is to address the threat of shielded nuclear material that passive systems are not capable of detecting. We are working with CBP on a range of technologies to address this concern. We are focusing much of our activity on radiography systems that provide the ability to automatically detect special nuclear material or dense materials that may be used to shield nuclear threats.
Moving beyond containerized cargo security, we have shifted our focus and are now dedicating increased time and effort to a wide range of issues and challenges. Much of our insight has come from our work of a global nuclear detection architecture which seeks to integrate efforts across the government into a single strategy to improve the nation's nuclear detection capability. We have been working with our partners to pursue a range of programs to strengthen the architecture.
To be effective, countermeasures in each layer -- international, at the border, and in the interior -- along with each threat pathway -- land, sea, and air -- will require a flexible approach, utilizing a variety of operational and technical solutions. Most importantly, no single solution is sufficient to completely address this threat.
It is often said that we have to be right 100 percent of the time, and terrorists have to be right only once. For a terrorist with an extremely valuable asset, like a nuclear weapon, our multi-layered approach reverses that logic. Now the terrorists must get it right his one chance, and we need only succeed interdicting him at one of our many layers.
As we work with our operational components, we remain committed to providing cutting edge technology that can be used in a variety of environments to address remaining vulnerabilities.
These technologies and strategies are coupled with our operational support services to assure that alarms are properly resolved and that real threats are quickly transitioned to effective response. In addition, we train state and local officers to support our detection mission, using a curriculum that provides instruction on how to operation detection equipment and investigate the potential malicious use of rad/nuc materials.
I look forward to continue our work with our partners within DHS, our federal departments, state and local agencies, and the members of this subcommittee and the Congress, to keep the nation safe from radiological and nuclear terrorism. This concludes my prepared statement.
Chairwoman Clarke, Ranking Member Lungren, and members of the subcommittee, I thank you for your attention and will be happy to answer any questions that you have.
REP. CLARKE: I thank you for your testimony. I will remind each member that he or she will have five minutes to question the panel. I now recognize myself for five minutes.
Dr. Gallaway, what is your current estimated date for ASP secretarial certification?
DR. GALLAWAY: We are looking at certifying this Fall. I hesitate to give a specific date.
REP. CLARKE: Is the current intention to certify for primary inspection, secondary inspection, or both?
DR. GALLAWAY: We would like to keep the option open to potentially certify for both. We are very focused on trying to get certification through on secondary.
REP. CLARKE: So we are looking at somewhere between September, late November.
DR. GALLAWAY: October is kind of our notional date right now. We need to get our field validation restarted. We are looking to get it started early next month. And assuming that it goes well, that we would then be on track for an October certification.
REP. CLARKE: Very well. Let us suppose that the significant increase in operational effectiveness criteria are met for the ASP and that the secretary certifies the ASP. The next consideration is that an ASP costs 2.67 times as much as a current PVT. Is the increase in performance then justified? The increased cost?
DR. GALLAWAY: Ma'am, you've kept the $64,000 question, and that's one that will be deliberated by the secretary, because what we are doing is offering a system with significantly improved performance, but we will have to weigh that against the costs, and the secretary will then be forced to make an acquisition decision.
REP. CLARKE: Well I'm sure she will be able to use your expertise, Dr. Gallaway. Thank you for answering those questions.
Dr. Krohmer, do you believe that the Office of Health Affairs should continue to exist as a standalone office within the department?
DR. KROHMER: Ma'am, based on the experience that we have had over the last three and a half years, a little bit more, the office started as the chief medical officer and then transitioned to the Office of Health Affairs. I think it functions most effectively as an independent office.
REP. CLARKE: Do you think that it should be split up with pieces into various other organizational entities within DHS? And how would efficiently and effectively increase in either scenario?
DR. KROHMER: I think I have a biased perspective because of the experience that I have had working with the various programs that we have in the office. And it's my personal perspective that there is a very close tie-in and could make a very good argument for keeping all of the programs together. I do acknowledge that there is some very close interaction with a number of our programs and other offices within DHS, so I think it's possible to make things work. But I think most efficiently and most effectively it would be my preference to keep the programs together as they are.
REP. CLARKE: Thank you, Dr. Krohmer.
Mr. Buswell, what are your plans for Environmental Measurements Lab in New York City?
MR. BUSWELL: EML is a crown jewel, I think, of the nation and has worked in a very good way with the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security since it was transferred over. As you know, it was a radiation monitoring laboratory under DOE.
We're morphing that now to be a test and evaluation and technical assistance entity in support of first responders. I mentioned the 13th IPT. We really have a heightened --- a heightened emphasis on our service to the first responders who are the nations heroes and on the front lines of homeland security every day.
And so to the extent that we can provide the first responders with technical assistance and test and evaluation of equipment that they would need in their homeland security role, that's what we plan to do at EML. We're developing a strategic plan for EML that I think will be completed, we'll brief that to the new undersecretary and to the deputy secretary and secretary when that's ready. And I expect that to be in the next couple of months.
And they will --- they'll start executing that plan and I think using New York as a test bed with the various, you know, obviously, high profile activities that go on there with the Port Authority and all those homeland security centric things it's a prime location and it's a prime capability and I really look forward --- I think the leadership up there is ready to go and do that.
REP. CLARKE: I'm glad to hear you say that Mr. Buswell.
I now recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, the gentleman from California, Mr. Lungren, for questions.
REP. LUNGREN: Thank you very much.
Dr. Krohmer, the budget request for planning and coordination, as I understand it, has been cut by about $3.3 million. Can you tell me why there was a cut for this?
And then secondly, according to the budget there's no specific funding request for pandemic activities. It that because it's included somewhere else or is there some reason we don't have it this year?
DR. KROHMER: The overall cut in Office of Medical Readiness was part of the administration's overall budget reduction strategy and we're working very closely, through the office, to modify activities so that we're able to continue many of the activities that have been ongoing. You'd mentioned the national biodefense architecture and that's a program that is very important to the office and that working with some of our partners we're hoping that we will be able to continue. We have made some staff adjustments to try and address that.
The issue of pandemic influenza activities we're talking about very close, or very thoroughly in the department, working with the CFO and the undersecretary of management and it's unclear at this point exactly where additional pandemic influenza requests may come from, whether it be from the Office of Health Affairs or management we're working within the department to address those issues.
REP. LUNGREN: So --- what I guess I'm trying to get at is at least throughout the country there's concern about pandemic. We're concerned about what may happen in September with the second wave of swine flu, to whatever extent it is. And it just struck me as perhaps timely that that be a specific project area and that's why I was -- why you suggested you're looking for areas where we might be able to respond to it why there would not be a funding request for pandemic activity specifically.
DR. KROHMER: Well I suspect that there will be a request. We're working within the department just to identify because of the overall departmental nature and the supplies and logistics storage whether that should be handled most appropriately within the Office of Health Affairs or within the management directorate.
We were able, with the H1N1 incident that we've had so far, to use some of our carry over pandemic funds to acquire additional antivirals and personal protective equipment earlier this spring that had not been acquisitions that had been anticipated. So we're continuing to move forward with that.
REP. LUNGREN: As I read the mission statement for the Office of Health Affairs it says, quote --- it says OHA quote "leads the department's role in developing and supporting a scientifically rigorous intelligence based biodefense and health preparedness architecture to ensure the security of our nation in the face of all hazards".
Yet, I don't see any specific funding request for the national biodefense architecture. Is there a reason for that?
DR. KROHMER: As a result of some of the budget constraints that we were placed under we have been looking at all of the programs within the office. We felt that we were able to continue the activities of the biodefense architecture by making some modifications in personnel and support activities.
REP. LUNGREN: So you couldn't use additional money, effectively?
DR. KROHMER: We would be able to use any money that available very effectively, yes, sir.
REP. LUNGREN: So if we stimulated your budget you'd be able to use it in an effective fashion.
DR. KROHMER: We would.
REP. LUNGREN: Just of the concerns I've got when the federal government tries to do everything for everybody else maybe we don't do all of the things we're supposed to be doing at the present time.
Mr. Buswell, you mentioned the area of cyber security and I'm very supportive of the administration's announced emphasis in that area going forward.
What specifically is the S&T directorate doing in terms of prioritizing cyber security? You mentioned that you tripled the amount of money directed toward that but in what way is that going to be used?
MR. BUSWELL: In a couple of very important ways. One, let me make it clear that the National Programs and Protection Directorate within the department, NPPD, and the undersecretary for NPPD have the lead for the department in cyber security. So they are our customer, if you will, in the cyber security world and identify the requirements for us.
The work that we're doing is work that, one, the private sector is not doing, first of all, for a number of reasons and that has to do with investing in things like test beds, data sets that can be used to understand the cyber threats and allow all comers to use those facilities in order to develop cyber security.
I'm very mindful of the fact that we don't deploy the technology. We develop the technology and especially in the cyber security and infrastructure --- other infrastructure protection kinds of roles much of this is deployed by the private sector and so we have to keep them closely involved with all of the development that we're doing and make sure that what we're doing and what they're doing we're not duplicating, first of all, because $37 million, quite frankly, is not a lot of money in the grand scheme of cyber security. But I'll be happy to provide a complete answer for the record.
REP. LUNGREN: Thank you.
REP. CLARKE: I fully support Doug Mullen's work on cyber security in S&T and I think his budget should be raised even more.
Having said that I would like to acknowledge the gentleman from New Mexico, Congressman Lujan.
REP. LUJAN: Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
And, if I may, the first question I'll be addressing our experts with will be a follow up I think on what our ranking member was asking about cyber security.
But first and foremost I want to thank everyone for their testimony today. As you know in New Mexico we have a few laboratories, Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, of which, Los Alamos National Laboratory is in my district and they're working on developing a range of technologies which could be utilized to provide some of the resources, some of the technology I think that could enhance what we're talking about today from a homeland security perspective, many of which may already be in use and some of the modeling capabilities already in practice within the Department of Homeland Security.
I'm pleased that Mr. Buswell, in his prepared remarks, touched on the dynamic partnership between the laboratories and the Department of Homeland Security. In recent years specific projects that have worked in conjunction with the department at Los Alamos are the MAGDEV (ph) airport scanner and the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, which I believe was utilized to assist our nation in being able to adequately prepare for H1N1 as well.
In the area of cyber security with the specific partnerships that do exist and as we're looking for compiling the necessary data sets to be able to truly understand the threats, some of these already in use and in place at many of our national laboratories. I'm more familiar with those at Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos and I would encourage that the department look to our national laboratories to be able to build upon the expertise that is in there, especially as the president is moving to bring some attention to what we as a nation need to be doing to adequately protect ourselves from cyber security attacks, as well as the dollars that can be saved to both business and the federal government and governments --- state and local and tribal within the United States.
So I appreciate that very much and would ask you to touch upon that in a minute as well.
A few things, Madame Chair, that I would like to specifically ask if there's no objection to be able to ask that the Office of Inspector General's report, which in included in our remarks today from the Department of Homeland Security, dated August of 2008, document OIG- 0885B, entered into the record.
REP. CLARKE: Without objection.
REP. LUJAN: And, Madame Chair, the reason I ask that is on pages 26 and 25 of this report is talks about some of the work that needs to be done for basic research projects that can be improved upon, whether it's election process or how we can truly work with tribal governments, with our first responders. The report details about the inspector general that there's a variable of funding to address the first responders' needs and that's on page 24 here.
So again, I know that we've made this request before. I know our colleague, Mr. Bill Pascrell, typically speaks out on behalf of our first responders, especially our firefighters. I would encourage that we continue to look closer there as well as S&T's inability to secure technology transfer agreements. One of the areas that we can take advantage of not only our laboratories but our bright minds in our nation is to support tech transfer opportunities that exist from the research investments that we as a nation are making within our laboratories and would encourage that we look to see what we can do to get those to market, to protect our nation, and to provide the level of security that we need.
But the doors that can be opened up are small business opportunities to be able to encourage economic growth and job creation are second to none and would like to hear a little bit about that, Madame Chair, and maybe if I would be indulged with a second round of questions then I would get a chance to hear about everything that I'm trying to bring up now.
The last, Madame Chair, is on pages 27 and 29 of the report one of the things that I hope that we can see change is --- the report outlines that in 2007 the undersecretary selection process that was identified through the inspector general's report was such that items were undocumented, there was a question of pre-selection for some of these projects.
One thing that we can't afford to do is not to allow the latest and greatest technology, ideas that can be proven, that can work to be able to have an opportunity to provide a level of support to those that need the help as opposed to saying, well, we think these are the best ones and I know these people so let's go help them.
And I would hope that what we learn from that process is that when we go forward that we're able to document adequately the selection criteria, how the projects move forward, so if there's ever a question in the future we're all able to come back and talk about what we learned from it, whether they were good selections or not, we're able to document it and it's not a matter of trying to hide the selection process, it's a matter of being open about it so we can learn what we can do better.
So thank you, Madame Chair. And when I get an opportunity I'll follow up on those questions and I'll do more listening for the second round as opposed to more speaking.
REP. CLARKE: Mr. Lujan you sure had a lot on your chest there. And we will be doing a second round of questions now gentlemen.
And I recognize myself for five minutes.
Mr. Buswell, in the 2008 inspector general review of the S&T Directorate the IG stated that the S&T should develop a more rigorous process for identifying, prioritizing, and selecting HIPS and HITS projects and ensure the process documents --- ensure the process documents the reasons behind the selections.
Additionally, the IG suggested that the undersecretary delegate the responsibility for managing the HITS/HIPS process to the director of innovation at HSARPA.
Have you notified the IG about completing these outstanding requirements? And did former Undersecretary Cohen establish procedures for documenting selection of future HIPS and HITS? And did he assign the director of innovation responsibility to identify and select these projects?
MR. BUSWELL: In short, yes ma'am, he did. And yes, we have --- I think we've closed this out with the IG.
The process that we put in place --- and we also have to put in context that the innovation portfolio was brand new in --- starting in December of 2006 and was jumpstarted with a handful of projects that then Undersecretary Cohen identified as being, well, innovative. And so that in itself was a necessary thing to do to jumpstart that portfolio but the IG had it exactly right in that we needed to formalize the process going forward. We've done that. The process as it now stands --- the director of innovation, HSARPA, collects recommended projects from really all comers, can come from within the department, can come from within science and technology directorate, they can come from the private sector, it can come from universities, come from laboratories. And those are categorized and analyzed for operational impact, first of all, and then do they fit the innovation model. In other words, is this a high risk, high gain kind of thing?
He makes a proposal to the S&T corporate board, which is an entity that's made up of the six division heads for each of the technical divisions and the three portfolio managers, the basic research portfolio, the transition portfolio, and himself as the innovation portfolio manager.
That recommendation comes to me in priority and then with my concurrence it gets presented to the undersecretary. That, I think, is an adequate process. But what we've done is taken it a step further in that we then present those projects to the technology oversight group, which is chaired by the deputy secretary and also consists of the undersecretary for management and the undersecretary for NPPD and all of the --- they're the voting members and all of the members of the operating components are free to participate in that meeting, in that group, for their concurrence that these do represent capabilities that would be of priority to the department and the homeland security enterprise in general.
So we did that with the FY10 process, budget development process and the two new starts that we've proposed in the budget submission were approved --- were developed and approved in that way.
REP. CLARKE: That sounds great.
Mr. Buswell, would you just present us with some follow up documentation on the process as you've described it?
MR. BUSWELL: Yes ma'am, I'd be pleased to.
REP. CLARKE: Thank you very much and I have a follow up question to you. In looking at the increase and decrease in the funding of individual research areas such as border and maritime, chemical and biological explosives, human factors, etcetera, the committee presumes that the budget request numbers reflect the interest and needs at this particular time of other DHS component agencies and the current state of agreements and projects pursuant to integrated project teams.
Is this the case? And if so, can you please tell us what specifics lead you to increase or decrease specific research projects? If not, can you tell us what else drove you're decisions?
MR. BUSWELL: Well, in the next 25 seconds I'll be happy to. The short answer is, yes, they do reflect the priorities of the capstones that have been developed in the capstone IPT process, for the most part.
Now remember, that's only 50 percent of the directorate's budget. The other percentages are in the basic research and in the innovation portfolios and those are also guided or informed by the IPT process.
So we can --- if you need additional information beyond what's in the justification for the budget request I'd be happy to provide that as to the incremental changes within those PPA's. But the general answer is, yes, those reflect our customer's priorities.
REP. CLARKE: Very well. Thank you very much, Mr. Buswell.
I now recognize the gentleman from California, Ranking Member Lungren, for five minutes.
REP. LUNGREN: Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
Mr. Buswell, I mentioned in my opening statement the fact that I was very pleased that your borders and maritime section is building, demonstrating, and transitioning the first phase of an improved capability so that we can detect the semisubmersible, self-propelled vessels to customers.
We've been looking at that as a problem of drug running, which it has been to this point in time, but as the Washington Post article suggested if it's been a pretty good delivery system for drugs to this country where they can't be detected, wouldn't it be a possible delivery system by terrorists for a nuclear device?
And, of course, we have the DNDO operation, which is specifically directed towards making sure that we don't have those devices delivered here.
With that in mind, and with the work that we've been doing under DNDO and hopefully get through the certification we have enhanced detection at our ports of entry, are we giving sufficient attention to the problem of the semisubmersibles and the possible delivery system? Is this just a drop in the bucket in terms of what you're doing? Or is it truly a serious effort in this regard?
MR. BUSWELL: Yes, sir, it is a serious effort and we will need to do more, clearly. This first effort is really working at identifying the capabilities that may exist already nationally, whether those are national overhead assets or Navy assets. As you may be aware, I spent the first 25 years of my adult life driving submarines so I'm very familiar with the difficulty that exists in finding those kinds of platforms. And these aren't even really true submarines. I mean, they really are surface ships that --- with a very low profile. So, you know ---
REP. LUNGREN: That cost a million dollars to build, they bring a payload of $100 million in. They've been very successful.
I mean, the law we passed is because they scuttle them. They can lose $100 million because they just do the next one. But the law helped us prosecute those ones we can detect. The question is how many are we not detecting? And if that proved to be a successful delivery system I am very concerned about it being, oh, we can spend all the time we want in terms of protecting against these ports of entry and are spending a tremendous amount because we see all these cargo containers coming in and we realize what an opportunity there. And I don't want us to stop our dedication to that but I'm concerned about this other thing.
And so your background helps us consider the seriousness of this problem and I appreciate that. I just hope others in the department and throughout government share that.
Let me ask you this, and maybe it's for you, maybe it's for Mr. Galloway and that is does your department get at all involved in the impact of an EMP attack on this country?
MR. BUSWELL: I can take a stab at that. I know that the EMP and the potential threat to the infrastructure of this country is something that the Office of Infrastructure Protection has looked at. The commission that issued the report last year on EMP attacks was widely distributed and read and considered. I've discussed this with Jim Snyder, the acting assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection to see if there were research and development needs that he identified. And what he told me was they've factored that threat, along with all the other threats, into their annual risk assessment and currently he doesn't see any research and development needs that are of a priority that he would ask us to sacrifice other programs in support of ---
REP. LUNGREN: Okay, let me ask the question this way; so, evidently there's nothing that's going directly to you but because of your experience --- you know the report was out there to the commission, you've read the report, it's been out. Do you get any sense of urgency throughout the department, throughout the government, either on the Hill or out there, that we are seriously enough considering that?
MR. BUSWELL: I think it's being very seriously considered. I'm just not sure where --- that there's a consensus or that we've finalized where that falls among all the other potential threats and vulnerabilities that we have and where we can best expend resources in order to harden, you know, harden our infrastructure against those kinds of attacks.
REP. LUNGREN: It just strikes me that at least one way of launching an EMP is obviously a missile that hits a certain altitude, so to speak, and explodes the nuclear device. You don't have to have an accurate missile. And as rouge nations and transnational organizations might be able to get their hands on that and we would breathe a sigh of relief because they're not very accurate, that's doesn't go into the equation. And I'm just concerned about whether any of us have internalized the seriousness such that we understand not only the possibility of that occurring but we understand the consequence of that occurring.
Thank you very much, Madame Chair.
REP. CLARKE: Thank you, Member Lungren. You may be aware that there's going to be a group meeting at the Capitol Hill Club tomorrow and Primus (ph) will be addressing them on that very topic. You're absolutely correct, I couldn't agree with you more. This is an area that we need to really focus on much more than we do.
At this moment I'd like to acknowledge Mr. Lujan of New Mexico for five minutes.
REP. LUJAN: Thank you, Madame Chair.
And Madame Chair, Mr. Lungren, one other piece of information I'd like to get for you on that point is there was an article that I read where recently --- I don't know if it was a satellite or something that had to be brought down but it was --- we had one shot to do this and it had to be precise because it had to be broken up in such a way that it wouldn't --- when it entered into the atmosphere that it wouldn't hit anything or that it would fully disintegrate and they did it. So I'll make sure I get the information on that and we'll put it together and that might be something for us to talk about as we collaborate on those ideas together.
Madame Chair, as I stated earlier, I asked a lot of questions about education, cyber security, detection, national laboratories, process improvements in each of those areas and so, Mr. Buswell, if we could begin with you and just hear a little bit from the panel.
And then I'd follow up with one question pertaining to the budget request to an 8.5 percent cut in university programs and to what we could truly do, again, to be able to take advantage of some of the brightest minds from an educational perspective to make sure that we have an avenue for them to assist us in solving some of these problems.
MR. BUSWELL: Yes, sir. I took some notes as you were talking in your first five minutes. Let me sort of take down this. We have taken very seriously the IG report that you referenced and had entered into the record and we're working --- I think we've closed out everything except for the basic research aspect that you're discussing or that you mentioned.
The national laboratories, universities, are the primary providers of the basic research that we fund. The Centers of Excellence that comprise most of the universities programs' funding that you mentioned took a slight reduction are very important for two reasons. One, we develop centers that will be of enduring value to homeland security. So these are capabilities that will last long after their funding from us has ended and they will be out on their own gathering funding from all sources in order to do this kind of work and we think that's very important.
Second, has to do with the scholars and fellows program. We fund a number, near 100, scholars and fellows and over 450 over the course of the program over the last four or five years. And these are people who are doing their undergraduate and graduate work in disciplines, technical disciplines that are relevant to homeland security. And we're looking to place those at national laboratories like Los Alamos or Sandia that are truly the long term and the foundation of the research within the country. There's a reason they're called national laboratories. They really are a national asset.
As far as the private sector engagement, which you also mentioned, let me just talk a little bit about that. The public/private partnerships are a win, win, win for the government, for the private sector and for the taxpayers. I've found that you get a faster speed of execution when the private sector is involved because they're interested in a return on the investment that they're making in the effort. It creates jobs, it creates revenue through the development of a marketable product, not through flipping and trading but development of a product. And under certain circumstances I think we can actually do that with a minimal --- with minimal taxpayer investment.
A couple ways that we approach this. This is the output of the capstone integrated product team process. These --- and we publish this every year. This is the one we just put out in May. These are our high priority technology needs and this is for everyone to see and everyone to participate in. We have a long range broad agency announcement in place where people have the ability to come in with very simple one to two page white papers that address the needs that are, that we've identified with the technology that they've developed. It doesn't cost them a lot of bid and proposal funding to build these things. We received about 350 such white papers in FY08, in the last fiscal year. Out of that we requested about 50 full proposals and we funded about 30 of those.
So we are getting participation from the private sector and we're using those resources in a way that, you know, that the country can appreciate.
There are a number of other things that we're doing from stakeholder outreach to commercialization that I'd be happy to get you additional details on but I think our engagement with the private sector is one of the things that we've really worked on over the last two years and I think that's working pretty well.
REP. CLARKE: I want to thank the witnesses for their valuable testimony here today and the members for their questions.
The members of the subcommittee may have additional questions for the witnesses. We will ask you to respond expeditiously in writing to those questions.
Hearing no further business, this subcommittee stands adjourned.