Monday, February 27, 2012

Congressional Hearings – Week of 02-27-12

Well Congress comes back this week from a week of celebrating President’s Day and there are some interesting hearings on this week’s schedule and two hearings already scheduled for the following week that may be of interest to the chemical and cyber security communities. This week we have a water security hearing, a cybersecurity hearing and an NPPD Budget hearing.

Water Security

Okay that may be a stretch but water facility security issues just might be mentioned in the hearing on “Local Government Perspectives on Water Infrastructure” on Tuesday being held by the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Local governmental officials are on the witness list. Any security related questions would come from Sen. Lautenberg (D,NJ) who has introduced legislation on water facility security issues (S 711).


On Tuesday the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding a hearing on “Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity: Assessments of Smart Grid Security.” The current witness list includes two GAO representatives (Gregory C. Wilshusen, Director of Information Security Issues and David Trimble, Director, Natural Resources and Environment) and a Congressional Research Service representative. It doesn’t sound like any control system expertise is involved; but Smart Grid isn’t about control systems is it? It’s all about personal privacy issues.

NPPD Budget

Under Secretary Rand Beers will be appearing at a closed door (classified) budget hearing before the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. I have seen at least one news report that this hearing is all about the CFATS problems, but I really doubt that. The NPPD budget hearing is typically classified and the Subcommittee has too much on its plate this early in the budget cycle to concern itself in detail about the management issues in a small agency like ISCD.

No doubt that Beers will be questioned about the ISCD problems in this hearing; probably by Rep. Dent (R,PA) who has a history concern about the program and is the sponsor of the only one of the three House bills (HR 916) that has been ignored by both the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Homeland Security Committee.

I really expect that the bulk of the questions that require this classified briefing will have to deal with securing government information systems.

Preview of the Following Week

We already have two hearings on the schedule for the following week that will be of interest to readers of this blog; both will be held a week from Tuesday.

The House Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies Subcommittee will hold a CFATS oversight hearing. No witnesses are yet scheduled but we can certainly expect to see Beers and Director Anderson. It will be interesting to see if anyone else from the current or past staff of ISCD will provide testimony.

Commandant Papp will testify at a Coast Guard budget hearing before the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. I’m pretty sure that we will hear questions about the TWIC Reader program and possibly extending the expiration of the current TWIC cards.

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