Tuesday, October 17, 2017

HR 4038 Introduced – DHS Oversight

Last week Rep. McCaul introduced HR 4038, the DHS Accountability Enhancement Act. The bill would remove the limited authority that the DHS Secretary has to reorganize the Department.

The bill would repeal 6 USC 452. That section allows the Secretary to “allocate or reallocate functions among the officers of the Department, and may establish, consolidate, alter, or discontinue organizational units within the Department” within some very specific limitations.

Most of the authority granted by this section was related to the initial organization of the Department when it was formed. The remaining authority requires DHS to provide prior “notice of such action to the appropriate congressional committees, which shall include an explanation of the rationale for the action” {6 USC 452(a)(2)}.

Moving Forward

McCaul is the Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee so this bill will be considered favorably in Committee. The fact that the Ranking Member {Rep. Thompson (D,MS)} would indicate that there will be broad bipartisan support for the bill in Committee and likely on the floor. The Committee hearings are likely to occur next week when the House returns from working in their districts.


This bill is almost certainly a response to on-going Department efforts to re-arrange the cybersecurity efforts currently found scattered through the Office of Infrastructure Protection. McCaul has his own cybersecurity re-organization plan (HR 3359) for DHS that was ordered reported favorably by the Homeland Security Committee (report has not yet been published) shortly after it was introduced in July.

A positive slant on this bill would be that McCaul is attempting to avoid having DHS undergo multiple reorganizations when (if) his bill passes. A more negative take on this bill is that McCaul is attempting to stop DHS from undermining his authority as the Chair of the Committee. As with most things in the real world, the real intent probably lies somewhere in between.

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