Sunday, August 11, 2013

HR 2952 Introduced – Critical Infrastructure Protection Technology

As I noted earlier Rep Meehan (R,PA) introduced HR 2952, the Critical Infrastructure Research and Development Advancement (CIRDA) Act of 2013. The bill would modify the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to establish programs within the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security to encourage the development of technologies for the protection of critical infrastructure.

Developing a Strategic Plan

Section 3 of the bill would add §318 to 6 USC Subchapter III (actually the section number would probably end up being §196 because of the silly way that Congress writes laws and then converts them to US Code) that would require the Under Secretary of Science and Technology to develop and transmit to Congress a “a strategic plan to guide the overall direction of Federal physical security and cybersecurity technology research and development efforts for protecting critical infrastructure” {§318(a)}.

That plan would include identifying:

• Critical infrastructure security risks and the associated security technology gaps {§318(b)(1)};
• A set of critical infrastructure security technology needs {§318(b)(2)};
• Laboratories, facilities, modeling, and simulation capabilities that will be required to support the research, development, demonstration, testing, evaluation, and acquisition of the security technologies {§318(b)(3)}; and
• Current and planned programmatic initiatives for fostering the rapid advancement and deployment of security technologies for critical infrastructure protection {§318(b)(4)}.

Public-Private R&D Consortiums

Section 319 would also be added, requiring a separate study by the Under Secretary. This one would address the use of “public-private research and development consortiums for accelerating technology development for critical infrastructure protection” {§319(a)}. The study would focus on privately owned critical infrastructure that would most benefit from the rapid advancement of security technology.

The study would include:

• A summary of the progress and accomplishments of on-going consortiums for critical infrastructure security technologies {§319(b)(1)};
• A prioritized list of technology development focus areas that would most benefit from a public-private research and development consortium {§319(b)(1)}; and
• A proposal for implementing an expanded research and development consortium program, including an assessment of feasibility and an estimate of cost, schedule, and milestones {§319(b)(1)}.

No Funding

As with most pieces of legislation that require the production of studies and reports to Congress, this bill does not provide any funding to DHS S&T to carry out any of this work. In fact, this bill goes the normal bill one better; §4 specifically states that no “additional funds are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act and the amendments made by this Act, and this Act and such amendments shall be carried out using amounts otherwise available for such purpose”.

Moving Forward

As with most study bills whether or not this bill moves through the legislative process will depend almost solely on how much pull the author can bring to bear to convince the leadership to move the bill along. It is non-controversial and something that really can’t be argued against since no money is being spent.

In any markup before the House Homeland Security Committee there will be bipartisan support for the bill after language is added to ensure that historically black colleges and universities as well as other minority institutions are included in any proposed research consortiums. I’m not sure why Republican authors of these types of bills don’t just automatically add such language (the Democrats always do) since they will support (or at least acquiesce to) such amendments when offered.

If this bill gets out of Committee it will be one of those bills that (if brought to the floor) will be considered under suspension of the rules and adopted by a bipartisan vote with minimal debate. It would then be passed in the Senate (if it sufficiently attracts the attention of the leadership) by unanimous consent with no debate.

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