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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. I thank the gentleman, and I rise to support S. 1998 and commend the basis of this legislation, which will look for a clean audit report and in particular as it relates to Congress submit a report on the plan to obtain an unqualified opinion annually until an unqualified opinion is submitted, and submit to Congress and the Comptroller General a report on DHS' plans and resources needed to modernize DHS' financial system.
Let me be clear that we know that it takes resources to secure the homeland, but this is a Department that has $40 billion in the annual budget and 200,000 employees. DHS is the Nation's third-largest Federal Department. It demands a clean audit.
I would also indicate that one of the issues that we have continued to work on in the committee is to ensure the access of small, minority, and women-owned businesses to the vast contracting needs that DHS is engaged in. In particular, when there are natural disasters, we are often seeing where those who live in the area who would benefit from being able to be the contractors or to be able to work on the restoration and remove the debris cannot access DHS in a fair way to be able to secure a contract to put people to work.
So even as we are talking about audits, I'm talking about management processes, as well. And I would hope that this legislation, as it begins to look at audits and making sure that we have an unqualified audit, will also look at process as we go forward in the 113th Congress, because as we secure the homeland, we want to make sure that we have a Department of Homeland Security that has had very fine leadership in Secretary Napolitano to be able to assure that the infrastructure that runs this agency is parallel to the infrastructure that is securing America. I think that will be a perfect system.
So I do support this legislation, and I hope the comments about small, minority, and women-owned businesses are taken to heart and that we will find a way to ensure that our resources, tax dollars, are utilized by the American people in the right and appropriate way.
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