Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bills Introduced – 06-07-16

With both the House and Senate in session there were 27 bills introduced yesterday. Of those five may be of specific interest to readers of this blog:

HR 5388 To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide for innovative research and development, and for other purposes. Rep. Ratcliffe, John [R-TX-4]

HR 5389 To encourage engagement between the Department of Homeland Security and technology innovators, and for other purposes. Rep. Ratcliffe, John [R-TX-4]

HR 5390 To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes. Rep. McCaul, Michael T. [R-TX-10]

HR 5393 Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, and for other purposes. Rep. Culberson, John Abney [R-TX-7] 

HR 5394 Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, and for other purposes. Rep. Diaz-Balart, Mario [R-FL-25]

The first three bills are those that I mentioned yesterday in my post about congressional hearings. The House Homeland Security Committee will be marking up these bills today. The text for the first two of these bills is currently available from the GPO. This means that I’ll be able to give a little more detail in this post on those bills.

HR 5388 would add a new section to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 authorizing the DHS S&T Directorate to support cybersecurity research and development. Unfortunately, the bill uses the limited definition of information system that does not include control systems so no control system specific security research would be supported. And, as is usual, there are no additional funds authorized for this new program so it effectively dilutes S&T research monies.

HR 5389 would authorize DHS to establish local coordination offices in areas of the country where there were concentrations of “innovative and emerging technology developers and firms” {§2(a)(1)} for the purposes of ‘engagement’ with such entities. Such engagement efforts (again without additional funding) would include {§2(b)(2)}:

• Ensure proven innovative and emerging technologies can be included in existing and future acquisition contracts;
• Coordinate with organizations that provide venture capital to businesses, particularly small businesses and startup ventures, as appropriate, to assist the commercialization of innovative and emerging technologies that are expected to be ready for commercialization in the near term and within 36 months; and
• Address barriers to the utilization of innovative and emerging technologies and the engagement of small businesses and startup ventures in the acquisition process.

HR 5390 is the bill authorizing the re-organization and re-naming of the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate to emphasize its role in cybersecurity.

The last two bills are spending bills. I will be watching both of them for cybersecurity provisions in both the bills and committee reports. I will, of course, also be watching the transportation bill (and report) for chemical transportation safety and security provisions.


It would be interesting to have the Congressional Budget Office do an analysis of how much bills like HR 5388 and HR 5389 reduce funding for current programs that will have money taken from them to support the new programs outlined in these bills.

Now, I fully support keeping federal spending under control, but Congress has gotten really stupid in the way that they authorize new programs without providing any additional funding for them. The money is going to have to come from somewhere and their failure to designate where it will come from means that the public will probably never know what tradeoffs are being made to support these new efforts.

I really suspect that these bills are more political theater than actual efforts to accomplish anything.

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