Over the weekend I had a chance to view the videos of the two hearings in the House where Secretary Napolitano provided almost 5 hours of testimony on the FY 2013 Budget Request. Both hearings were held on the 15th, the first before the Appropriations Committee and the second before the Homeland Security Committee. As is common with most of these types of hearings the bulk of the questions supported the adage that ‘all politics is local’, with most of the questions dealing with program cuts and issues in the questioner’s district.
The CFATS program was brought up in both hearings. Chairman King did mention the problems in the implementation of the program in his opening remarks (only available on video, no printed version has been posted to the Committee site), but he failed to ask a single question about the program during his question periods.
Rep. Dent (R,PA) was the only one to ask any CFATS related questions the issue during the Appropriations Committee hearing (at 1:43 into the hearing video). He asked a pro forma question about the ISCD report and the ‘path forward’ and got a generic response from the Secretary; hardly intense questioning, but thats expected in a budget hearing.
Dent also asked a question about the use of the TWIC for the CFATS personal surety program that is still under review by OMB. There was actually some minor conversation about the issue between he and Napolitano. The end result was a promise to ‘look into the matter’ by the Secretary.
The general issue of cybersecurity funding came up in both hearings, it’s a fairly warm subject (you know, not quite really hot) on the Hill right now. It was mentioned in the Secretary’s prepared testimony, but there was no specific discussion of control system related issues in her testimony or any of the questions she answered.
Unfortunately, during the budget process there is only one place where either CFATS or control system security is likely to come up in the House hearing process and that is during Under Secretary Beer’s scheduled appearance before the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. That hearing is scheduled to be held on March 1st, but we won’t be able to see it as it will be a classified (closed) hearing.
No word on the Senate side when the Senate Homeland Security Committee will be taking up the FY 2013 budget. Their hearing schedule has been unusually quiet so far this year.