Sunday, February 3, 2013

Congressional Hearings – Week of 02-03-13

This week both the House and Senate will be in town. There are no hearings of particular interest on the Senate side of the building and only two on the House side. Both of those are organizational hearings with both Committees (Energy and Commerce and Oversight and Reform) adopting their oversight plans for the 113th Congress. Those plans will address chemical security issues as well as cybersecurity issues.

Energy and Commerce

The Committee will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday. Their draft Oversight Plan specifically addresses chemical-security and cybersecurity topics. Not too much detail on either topic in this plan (as would be expected) but what is available does provide some insight into what philosophy the Chairman and his staff expect to advocate in this session.

Cybersecurity – “The Committee will exercise its jurisdiction over cybersecurity to ensure the country is well protected  while at the same time avoiding one-size-fits all approaches [emphasis added] that hinder the flexibility  of commercial and governmental actors need to combat the rapidly evolving threats.”

CFATS – “The Committee will continue to examine whether taxpayer funds are spent prudently and the extent to which the Department is advancing the purpose of securing chemical facilities against terrorist threats.”

This committee is expected to craft legislation this session for renewal of the CFATS program and on cybersecurity issues. There will be conflicting (to one degree or another) legislation from the Homeland Security Committee on both topics and it will interesting to see which version of the bills make it to a floor vote (if any do).

Oversight and Governmental Reform

I don’t normally follow this committee very closely, but their draft Oversight Plan does contain a section on Homeland Security that does address security areas of potential interest to readers so their hearing on Tuesday may be interesting.

The Homeland Security section of their plan contains the following paragraph:

“The Committee will evaluate efficiency and effectiveness of homeland security strategy, laws, initiatives, and technology.  In particular, the Committee will focus on aviation, rail and transit, chemical, nuclear, port, our northern and southwestern borders, and other facilities or critical infrastructure at risk, federal funding interaction with local responders and efforts to strengthen the U.S. public health system.” [emphasis added]

Cybersecurity is addressed under Technology Policy and focuses primarily on Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and thus is primarily interested in government IT security, not control systems.

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