Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HR 2610 Introduced – FY 2014 DOT

As I noted earlier Rep. Latham (R,IA) introduced HR 2610, the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2014. I normally follow this bill for chemical transportation issues, but this year it also includes a couple of minor cybersecurity references. As is typical there is little of specific interest in the actual language of the bill beyond the funding levels of the specific agencies. We have to look at the Committee Report to see the details that might be of real interest.


The Appropriations Committee has been generally supportive of department internal cybersecurity requests so far, but that is not true with this bill. They reduced the DOT internal network cybersecurity spending from $10 million to $2 million, noting [Report, pg 10] that:

“The Committee recommendation includes $2,000,000 to support the Secretary’s Cyber Security Initiative, which is $4,000,000 below the budget request and $8,000,000 less than the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. Because of the fiscal year 2013 continuing resolution, this account received $10,000,000, a $4,000,000 increase over that year’s budget request. With the funding provided in fiscal year 2014, the Department will receive a total of $12,000,000 over two years, equal to the requests of the two fiscal years.”

I sure hope that the DOT CIO is spending this year’s money wisely. If this stands through the legislative process, next year will be tight in DOT cybersecurity programs.

The only other cybersecurity mention comes in the Committee Report in the section concerning the FAA. Under the heading “Cyber Security and Protecting the National Airspace System” [pg 24] the Committee notes that:

“As FAA continues to make billion dollar investments in NextGen, the Agency must ensure that new systems are more secure than the legacy systems they replace or supplement, and new threats are not inadvertently introduced. A clear understanding of threats, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures is absolutely essential.”

No new money for the effort but the Committee does recommend that “FAA needs to take full advantage of ongoing DOD cyber work, which could provide invaluable insights on how to protect air traffic control systems.”

Interdepartmental Conflicts

The Appropriations Committee has an interesting oversight responsibility because of its control of the purse strings over the entire federal government. It gets a chance to see and influence/control competition between different departments of the Executive Branch to make sure that there isn’t too much duplication of work. There are two such cases addressed in this report; one dealing with security and one with safety.

In the report’s discussion of the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) spending it notes that the Committee has included language in the bill “prohibiting FTA from creating a permanent office of transit security” [Report pg 52]. It goes on to explain that the lead agency for transportation security is DHS in all modes “including rail and transit lines”.

In the safety case the issue is not so clear cut. In the PHMSA section of the Report [pg 65] they note that:

“The Committee is advised that the approval processes for Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) respirator cylinders by both PHMSA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health may be duplicative and potentially restrictive of competitive options.”

Since the division of labor here is not so clear, so the Committee resorts to the old congressional favorite; a report. PHMSA is given one year to report to the Committee “on whether these approval processes can be made more efficient”.

Special Permit Fees

The Obama Administration has each year attempted to raise funds for DOT by including a new fee for the processing and enforcing of PHMSA special permits and approvals in their budget proposal. Each year the Appropriations Committee has refused to include it in the spending bill. This year is no different, if somewhat less strident in their rejection. They do note [Report pg 64] that:

“Additional fees within this account should be considered in the context of authorizing legislation originating in the committees of jurisdiction.”

Moving Forward

This bill is likely to come to the floor in the next two weeks under an open rule. Various amendments will be proposed with many being adopted. It will then be ignored by the Senate who will probably adopt a modified version of S 1243 and then substitute its language for HR 2610 as adopted by the House. As I noted in my post on that bill the Senate Appropriations Committee also addressed the FAA cybersecurity issue as well as the PHMSA fee issue.

This bill may make it to the President’s desk before October 1st, but that isn’t real likely in the current legislative atmosphere. It is still too early to tell if we will get an omnibus spending bill at the last minute or if there will be a continuing resolution. Early money would probably go for the CR.

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