Saturday, May 7, 2011

Congressional Hearings Week of 05-09-11

This week will be an interesting one for congressional hearings for the chemical security community. It will see the first full committee vote of the Session on CFATS legislation, another TWIC hearing, and a look at the potential financial consequences of cyber attacks.

HR 908 Vote

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will be holding an odd two-day mark-up hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday that will address two separate bills, including HR 908, one of three CFATS extension bills under consideration in the House. Multiple day markup hearings on controversial legislation is not that unusual, but conducting a combined markup of a health care bill (HR 5) and a CFATS extension bill is odd. Furthermore, the announced format (opening statements on the first day followed by the actual markup work on the second day) is peculiar.

I was surprised this week that there were no amendments offered by the Democrats in the Subcommittee markup of this bill and I don’t believe that that will be repeated this week. While IST provisions and employee involvement requirements have little to no chance of passing in the Republican controlled committee, the Democrat’s base supporters will demand at least a proforma attempt at including these provisions.

One other potential amendment might come to a vote, a removal of the water facility exemption. There is a chance that this amendment might pass in this Committee. The inclusion of water treatment facilities in the CFATS program would ensure that the Energy and Commerce Committee would have a voice in any future CFATS program changes. With no IST provisions in the bill and EPA control of the security program at water facilities, this provision might even be able to pass in the full House.


The Transportation Workers Identification Credential is certainly coming in for a lot of Congressional scrutiny during the opening months of this session. The Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee will be holding a hearing to review the program on Tuesday. The following witnesses are currently scheduled to testify at the hearing:

• Mr. John S. Pistole, Administrator, Transportation Security Administration;

• Rear Admiral Kevin Cook, Director, Prevention Policy, U.S. Coast Guard; and

• Mr. Steve Lord, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Government Accountability Office
Questions will certainly be asked about the pace of implementation of the TWIC Reader program. Additional topics of concern could include the upcoming renewal of existing cards and potential expansion of the program into other transportation sectors.

Cyber Security

On Thursday the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee will be holding a previously postponed hearing on the economic ramifications of cyber attacks. There is only a slight possibility that this will include mention of attacks on industrial control systems. Witnesses scheduled include:

• Mr. Gordon Snow, Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation Cyber Division

• Ms. Harriet Pearson, Vice President Security Counsel, Chief Privacy Officer, IBM

• Ms. Sara Santarelli, Chief Network Security Officer, Verizon

• Mr. Thomas Kellermann, Chief Technology Officer, AirPatrol Corp.
Even without coverage of ICS issues, this hearing could be of interest to the chemical security community. We frequently overlook the fact that chemical companies do have IT systems that need protecting as much as (some people say more than) their control systems.

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