U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) and U.S. Representative Mark S. Critz (PA-12) oppose language in a Congressional appropriations bill that would close Johnstown's National Drug Intelligence Center.
"Eliminating the National Drug Intelligence Center is a critical mistake," said Senator Casey. "NDIC plays a crucial role in fighting drug trafficking and gang violence in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. I will continue to fight to keep critical counterdrug operations and these important jobs in Johnstown."
"The NDIC plays an important role in the drug-enforcement arena that no other agency does, and it makes sense for the taxpayer that its work remain in Johnstown rather than move it somewhere else," Sen. Toomey said. "It is for this reason that I have fought to keep NDIC up and running in Johnstown, including meeting with DOJ officials and urging this administration to do the right thing. I hope that they work with us on a reasonable solution that will protect Pennsylvania jobs."
"Closing down the NDIC just forces the federal government to spend more money to build the same capacity somewhere else," said Rep. Critz. "I'm disheartened by this decision, and I hope that going forward the Department of Justice realizes that keeping critical counterdrug and intelligence functions in Johnstown will save money and minimize disruptions."
The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) was established by the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Placed under the direction and control of the Attorney General, NDIC was established to "coordinate and consolidate drug intelligence from all national security and law enforcement agencies, and produce information regarding the structure, membership, finances, communications, and activities of drug trafficking organizations."
NDIC opened its doors in Johnstown in 1993. In 1998, NDIC became an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice and now employs roughly 185 federal employees and contract personnel. The mission of NDIC is to provide strategic drug-related intelligence, document and computer exploitation support, and training assistance to the drug control, public health, law enforcement, and intelligence communities of the United States in order to reduce the adverse effects of drug trafficking, drug abuse, and other drug-related criminal activity.
The U.S. Senate passed its version of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill on November 1st which provided $20 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center. The House of Representatives passed its own version of this legislation that would have eliminated funding for the Center entirely.
In a House-Senate compromise bill proposed today, $20 million is provided to close the facility in Johnstown and reassign key functions and personnel within the Department of Justice at the discretion of the Attorney General. The House-Senate bill directs the Department of Justice to provide a report to Congress on its plans for the continuation of critical counterdrug and intelligence activities and does not specify where those activities are to be located.