Thursday, February 2, 2012

More Info on ISCD Hearing

The House Energy and Commerce web site now has some additional information available on their hearing about the problems at ISCD. The information includes a witness list and a Committee Staff memo on the situation.

Witness List

The witness list is predictable and yet disappointing if it is the complete list. As I predicted in my earlier blog Under Secretary Beers and Director Anderson will be the (first?) panel of witnesses. This may be predictable, but it is certainly necessary. These are the two individual with the responsibility for overseeing the operations of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division of the Office of Infrastructure Protection. Additionally, Beers was the one to direct Anderson to conduct the project review that came to our attention via the report in December.

I have received a number of personal (and mainly anonymous) contacts from personnel working in the Directorate over the last year or so. There has been a lot of dissatisfaction with the way the CFATS program has been administered. To be fair most of that pre-dates Anderson’s appointment as Director. In fact I have had at least one communication from a Chemical Facility Security Inspector that praises Director Anderson’s efforts to address the issues.

Still, I think that the voices of the work force in the Department also deserve a voice in these proceedings. As one former employee noted to me it would be difficult for Anderson to have a complete understanding of the problems of the program since she is so new to the office.

Staff Memo

I had really hoped to see a copy of Anderson’s report to Beers. Instead we have a memo from the Committee Staff outlining the current situation at ISCD. There are a couple of interesting points made in this memo. First and foremost (to my mind) is the fact that the Committee was given a copy of the memo on January 30, 2012, over a month after it was shown to Fox News reporter, Mike Levine, so much for Congressional oversight.

Another interesting point in the memo is their reporting about the ‘miss-tiering’ letter that was sent out last summer. The Staff Memo reports that problems in data entry and modeling resulted in “in improper tiering of 600 facilities”; a few more than the 400 letters I had heard about. More importantly, it seems that the problem was uncovered in 2010 and covered up until Anderson took over the Directorate.

The memo notes that the ISCD report is marked FOUO (for official use only) and is only being made available to members (and probably their staffs). It does summarize the main points (high level summary to be sure) of the report, noting that there are 5 ‘major programmatic’ challenges and 9 ‘staffing challenges’ out lined in the report.

The programmatic challenges include:

• Inadequate training capability;

• An overreliance on hired consultants for expertise;

• Inappropriate transitions for new hires;

• Uncertainty from extremely short program authorizations; and

• Issues regarding job descriptions and the presence of an employee union.

While it is a common belief in most management, inside and outside of government, the inclusion of ‘an employee union’ as a challenge will probably not endear Ms. Anderson to the current liberal administration. I do suspect that some members of this Subcommittee will jump on that ‘challenge’ in this week’s hearing.

The memo only lists four of the 9 personnel challenges;

• Inexperienced managers;

• Personnel placed in jobs for which they are not qualified:

• Inadequate internal staff control, and

• Lack of regulatory compliance expertise

I would be interesting to know what the other five personnel challenges were. Did one include Levine’s comments about carrying weapons?

Watch this space for continued coverage of these issues.

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