Monday, November 14, 2022

Committee Hearings – Week of 11-13-22

This week the 117th Lame Duck session begins, with both the House and Senate meeting in Washington. We have two homeland security hearings to watch and confirmation hearings for the CSB.

Homeland Security

On Tuesday, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland”. The witness list includes:

• Alejandro Mayorkas, DHS,

• Christopher Wray, FBI

• Christine Abizaid, ODNI

Cybersecurity issues will definitely be discussed.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security”. No witness list is currently available.

I expect that cybersecurity regulations at TSA and CISA may be briefly addressed.

CSB Nominations

On Thursday, the Senate the Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a nomination hearing for two CSB nominees: Stephen A. Owens to be Chairperson of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigations Board and Catherine J.K Sandoval to be Member. Owens is currently a Member of the Board and acting as Chair. Sandoval was nominated by President Biden back in June. Sandoval is a law professor at Santa Clara University in California and has served on the California Public Utilities Commission. She has accident investigation experience from her time at CPUC.

There are currently three vacancies on the five-member Chemical Safety Board.

1 comment:

Rosearray said...

The same day as the Senate EPW hearing for Mr. Owens and Ms. Sandoval, the CSB quietly posted their 2022 Performance and Accountability Report ( It contained several interesting items.

First, concerning the two Bio-Lab incidents being investigated - only one of which was listed on their Incident Closure Plan:
• Chemical Fire Following Hurricane Laura (Westlake, LA): On August 27, 2020, a fire occurred at the Bio-Lab Lake Charles chemical facility following landfall of Hurricane Laura. The fire led to a call for residents to shelter-in-place. The investigation team is developing the final investigation report.
• Chemical Release (Conyers, GA): On September 14, 2020, a thermal decomposition event occurred at the Bio-Lab facility in Conyers, GA. Interstate Highway 20 was closed temporarily due to smoke produced by the event. The information on this investigation will be included in the Bio-Lab Lake Charles investigation report.

Second, they made the following admission with regard to the implementation of the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan:
• Goal 3: Create and maintain an engaged, high-performing workforce.
Centers on implementing actions to support the current objectives. Consensus is the hiring process needs improving and the specialized skills needed for CSB positions goes beyond standard recruiting practices currently in place.

Third, the report made the following statement regarding the past year's achievements and current efforts regarding Goal 3:
Goal 3: Create and maintain an engaged, high-performing workforce.
Goal 3 emphasizes organizational excellence. In FY 2022 CSB continued its recruiting efforts to fill multiple vacancies for the agency’s mission critical position, Chemical Incident Investigator.
Industry trends drive a need for the CSB to strengthen our capacity to analyze increasingly complex engineering processes and human interactions with these processes and deploy to incidents in new industries and with emerging technologies. In FY the CSB hired two chemical incident investigators, with another chemical incident investigator scheduled to join the agency in November. The CSB also is actively recruiting to fill four additional chemical incident investigator positions, as well as a vacant chemical incident investigator supervisor position.

This last sentence is a bit puzzling to me. When asked during the Senate EPW hearing how many Chemical Incident Investigators there currently were, Mr. Owens replied that there were 13, including Supervisory Investigators, and this agrees with my count (William Steiner is gone and Tyler Nelson has just started), and with the number shown on the 2022 Performance and Accountability Organizational Chart - but there is no vacancy shown for a Chemical Incident Investigator Supervisor. So...does this mean that one is getting ready to leave?

There is one other thing about which I am extremely curious - the Senior Chemical Incident Investigator (Dan Tillema). He reports directly to the Executive Director for Investigations and Recommendations, and is not part of any team. is he being utilized? E.g., as a trainer, coach, internal expert, or as assigned?

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