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Public Statements

DHS Accountability Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KEATING. Thank you, Ranking Member Thompson, for yielding your time and for your leadership on the Homeland Security Committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5913, the Department of Homeland Security Accountability Act of 2012.

As the ranking member for the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigation, and Management, I was pleased to work with Chairman McCaul and serve as the original cosponsor of this measure.

I appreciate the bipartisan discussions that led to the introduction of the amended version we adopted at the subcommittee level, which is the version being considered today.

This bill goes to the heart of the subcommittee's mandate, which is to ensure the effective management of the Department of Homeland Security. Ensuring the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security is not a partisan matter, and it should serve as a priority as it is essential to our security and safety in this country.

Since its inception, the Department of Homeland Security has faced significant management challenges, many of which stem from the very nature of its creation, which was transforming 22 legacy agencies into one cohesive, unified department. To its credit, the Department has come a long way since its inception, but more work remains to be done.

The consideration of this bill comes at a time when Congress is examining cost-saving and revenue-generating measures to reduce our deficit while ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens. There is no doubt that the Department is making positive strides and has clear plans in place to reduce duplicative efforts in the management area. For example, the Department's Efficiency Review Initiative, which was highlighted by Vice President Biden as a model for all Federal agencies, has resulted in more than $1 billion in DHS cost avoidances, including $180 million saved by consolidating duplicative software licensing agreements.

I am also pleased that the Secretary has advanced internal measures aimed at eliminating waste and fraud. Unfortunately, this does not change the fact that a number of DHS activities are still shared by other Federal agencies.

In March of 2011 and in February of 2012, the GAO identified six areas across DHS where overlap or potential unnecessary duplication exists. For example, when it comes to personnel background investigations, cybersecurity trainings, and the identification of fraudulent travel documents, the lines between multiple agencies remain blurred. Furthermore, despite its management strides, the Department has yet to fully address deficiencies in component operations that result in the wasting of funds. The Department's Federal Protective Service has received over $230 million from Federal agencies for risk assessments and security services, yet these agencies have not found the FPS's services adequate or satisfactory, so they perform their own assessments as well.

This bill will determine instances of waste and abuse through an independent advisory panel that will be charged with two main responsibilities: to comprehensively assess the management structure and capabilities related to the Department and to make recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of the Department. The legislation instructs the panel to examine five broad categories: the efficiency and effectiveness of management structure and capabilities; whether unnecessary duplication exists; the extent to which management of key homeland security missions is centralized; waste and duplication.

Mr. Speaker, this bipartisan effort will comprise this panel's work through the course of this session, which has been extensive. I want to thank Chairman McCaul for his efforts in dealing with these issues. I want to thank him for the bipartisan cooperation that has been there on important issues of national security. I also want to thank the ranking member for yielding his time and for his leadership on the committee.

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