Saturday, September 17, 2011

S 1546 Introduced – DHS Authorization Bill

Earlier this week Senators Lieberman (I,CT) and Collins (R,ME) introduced S 1546, the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2011. A copy of the bill is not yet available from the Government Printing Office, but it is hardly necessary as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee printed a copy of substitute language for the bill that is being considered by that Committee in markup hearings conducted this last week and next week. Since that substitute version will be the basis for any other Committee actions, a review of that will be more important than a review of the introduced version.

There is no mention of chemical, transportation, or cyber security in the bill, in fact there is relatively little mention of security in this bill reflecting the current DHS emphasis on recovery. There are still some provisions in this bill that will be of interest to the chemical, transportation and cyber security communities. They include:

• Catastrophic incident planning;
• Guidelines concerning weapons of mass destruction;
• Plume modeling;
• Metropolitan medical response system; and
• Classified national security information program.

Catastrophic Incident Planning

Section 401 sets out requirements for the Department’s responsibilities for “leading, promoting, and coordinating efforts of Federal agencies to conduct catastrophic incident planning” and reviewing plans for “private sector entities for catastrophic incidents submitted to the Federal agencies” {§526(b)(3)}. The Department is specifically tasked with “promoting and supporting appropriate catastrophic incident planning by private sector entities, including private sector entities that own or manage critical infrastructure” {§526(b)(6)}. This should include high-risk chemical facilities.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Section 413 requires the Department to establish guidelines “for responding to an explosion or release of nuclear, biological, radiological, or chemical material” {§531(a)(1)}. Those guidelines would include:

• Protective action guidelines for emergency response personnel;

• Exposure effects of the biological, chemical or radiological agents; and

• Information about effective treatments for WMD victims for emergency response personnel and mass care facilities.

Plume Modeling

Section 414 requires the Secretary to develop an ‘integrated plume model’ (similar to what we used to call a downwind message in the Army) that would serve as a tool for emergency responders for “the assessment of the location and prediction of the spread of nuclear, radioactive, or chemical fallout and biological pathogens resulting from an explosion or release of nuclear, radioactive, chemical, or biological substances” {§318(a)(2)}. Provisions would be required to be made for the release of the model to “nongovernmental organizations and the public to enable appropriate response activities by individuals” {§318(b)(2)(B)}.

Metropolitan Medical Response System

Section 418 reauthorizes the Metropolitan Medical Response System to continue to assist State and local governments “in preparing for, protecting against, and responding to mass casualty incidents by systematically enhancing cooperation and integration of emergency response providers and public health and medical personnel” {§2042(b)}. Last session similar legislation was introduced as HR 4580 and I made some suggestions then as to how CFATS emergency response planning could be incorporated into MMRS preparations.

Classified National Security Information Program

Section 602 would establish a Classified National Security Information Program which will be designed “to safeguard and govern access to classified information shared by the Federal Government with States, local governments, Indian tribes, and private sector entities” {§210G(b)}. This program would implement the provisions of EO 13526 for classified information (presumably intelligence information).

The program would include responsibility for:

• Tracking the status and final disposition of security clearance requests;

• Developing and maintaining a security profile of facilities that have access to classified information;

• Developing appropriate training for personnel with access to classified information; and

• Preparing an annual report on the status of the Program to Congress.

Moving Forward

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held the first of two markup hearings on the bill earlier this week, but there are no real details beyond a link to the web cast currently available. The second of the two hearings will be held this Wednesday, after which we should find more details on the Committee web site.

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