Saturday, November 12, 2011

Reader Comment – USCG and Homeland Security

Yesterday a long time reader and security blogger in her own right, Laurie Thomas, (Maritime Security/MTSA News) responded to a comment I made in my posting about the introduction S 1665, the Senate version of the Coast Guard Authorization bill. I commented that:

“I suppose that the MTSA community should be happy that there are no new requirements added in this bill, but it does appear that the reason is not that the regulatory environment is completely covered but more because of a lack of attention.”

Laurie proposed two alternatives that she explains better in her comment (please read) but I’ll summarize as:

• Other members of the Coast Guard supported community feel that they have been slighted due to the previous attention on Homeland Security, and

• The realization that the pending MTSA 2 regulations need to be absorbed before new requirements are established.

Politically, the first reason certainly rings true. You can see this possibly reflected in the list of missions being supported that I described in the original blog post. One of those in particular, ice operations, has been receiving a lot of attention in both the Senate and the House in Coast Guard hearings this year. In a budget-limited year, adding funds for these other programs would certainly have to come at the expense of something and that could very well be reason for the lack of mention of new homeland security mission requirements.

The second reason seems a bit of a reach to me. That might explain the lack of new programs, but politicians are not known for thinking that far ahead. It certainly doesn’t explain the lack of the normal requirements for meaningless reports to Congress on TWIC Reader implementation or CFATS harmonization or any of the other hot-topic homeland security issues of the last couple of years. Nor can we assume that the Senate (and the House which also seems to have mostly ignored the HS mission in their version – HR 2838 – currently being considered on the floor) has decided to stop wasting regulator’s time with these endless reports.

No, I really think that we are starting to see a shift away from the post-9/11 sharp-focus on security and counter-terrorism. Part of the reason is certainly due to the lack of significant attacks on the homeland. The successful attacks have been extremely small scale and the larger scale attempts have been particularly inept. One would have to expect that the public and their politicians would sooner or later start to think that we seem to have the counter-terrorism thing under reasonable control.

The other problem is that the public (and the mass of reactive politicians) have a limited attention span and that is quite frankly focused on more important problems; it is yet again ‘the economy, stupid’. While this is most obviously noted in our communities by changes in funding priorities (which is what authorization bills are all about after all) it will also be seen in the lack of attention to ongoing security programs by both the public and the  politicians.

I don’t think that we are facing major cut backs in the chemical security related programs (MTSA and CFATS are both relatively low cost programs as far a Federal spending programs go). Industry has been generally supportive of what DHS and the Coast Guard have been doing and there are still some powerful politicians that strongly support these programs. I just don’t see any great new programs or requirements being set out for our community.

UNLESS…. (beware of knee-jerk political reactions)

1 comment:

Enthony said...

Hi, good post. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site.
Beautiful! You are very talented.

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */