A recent article on HLSWatch.com describes the top 5 priorities for DHS as seen by the chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. Chairman Price does not include chemical facility security in that list. While there are many activists and security professionals that might disagree, the level of funding and staffing shows that Congress shares this view in general.
Three of Price’s top 5 are certainly high priorities on anyone’s list. Few can argue that Immigration, Disaster and Emergency Response, and Technology and Privacy should be high priorities for DHS funding. Inclusion of Management reflects the continuing challenge of creating a fully functional cabinet level agency out of an ad hoc collection of agencies. The final priority, Grants and Risk Analysis, reflects the political reality that congress is as interested in pork barrel spending as in accomplishing anything of substance.
While no one could reasonably expect chemical facility security to make even a top 10 list of priorities for DHS, it would certainly have seemed reasonable for Security to be one of the top 5. None of the Top 5 Priorities of Chairman Price had anything to do with security. Even the immigration issue is more about jobs and political posturing than security.
Until Congress starts to take homeland security more seriously we will continue to see under funded efforts run by under manned agencies. We will continue to see important legislation like CFATA languish in committees more capable of finger pointing than conducting hearings. We will continue to see pork barrel grants to agricultural chemical security while there is no funding to protect chemical plants or water treatment facilities.