Mikulski Seeks to Restore Homeland Security Funding in Light of Scathing DHS OIG Report

Mikulski: This is another in a string of DHS failures and bad decisions.

In what is becoming a rare example of federal government oversight, the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released a 54 page report which identified serious flaws in the effort to create the National Asset Database (NADB). The database is the effort by the DHS to identify and organize the nation’s critical infrastructure and key resources (CI/KR). This effort was mandated on December 17, 2003 by Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 7, Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and Protection.

Although two and a half years have passed since the mandate, the database is still a work in progress—and significantly flawed at that. The report notes that as of last January there were 77,069 assets identified which have yet to be
distinguished by criticality. The IG notes that this fact confirms that the NADB is not an accurate representation of the nation’s CI/KR.

The report further points out that many of the assets identified significantly taint the credibility of the database. Many examples of these “out-of-place assets” are cited. Some of the more egregious of those listed include: a petting zoo, a sporting goods store, the Mule Day Parade, the Amish Country Popcorn store, a kennel club and poker room, night clubs, a brewery, a Mail Boxes Etc. store, and a restaurant.

There are also significant problems with how the assets are defined from state to state. For example, Indiana lists 8,591 assets in the NADB, more than any other state and fifty percent more than New York (5,687). New York of course is home to New York City which is the financial capitol of the world and the target of at least two successful terrorist attacks. The report further notes that California—the nation's largest state in terms of its economy and population—has 3,212 assets, fewer than 7 other states including Nebraska (3,457), Wisconsin (7,146), and Indiana (8,591).

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) expressed frustration with what she deemed the
incompetence of the DHS. Mikulski's office noted that the DHS database is used to allocate funding for homeland security grants. “I regret voting for the establishment of DHS,” said Senator Mikulski. “The department cannot get its act together to get the job done, makes poor decisions on allocations, and is saturated with waste and fraud. DHS officials have made a string of bad decisions and a string of failures.”

Mikulski today joined Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton (both D-N.Y.) to introduce an amendment during floor consideration of the 2007 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spending bill to restore $790 million in federal funding for critical high-risk areas. Today's effort would offset the dramatic cuts implemented by DHS on May 31, 2006. States and cities facing high terrorist threats, including Baltimore and the National Capital region, suffered considerable funding reductions.

“I don't know the threats facing Montana or Minnesota, but I do know the threats facing Maryland. Not only do we have a number of federal assetsclassified and unclassified
but our first responders are on hand to respond to emergencies throughout the National Capital region. In fact, Maryland's first responders were among the first on the scene at the Pentagon on September 11th, working to save lives,” said Senator Mikulski. “What will happen if we don't restore these cuts? Local taxpayers will be forced to pay more in taxes, or critical national assets will lose protection. Neither of these options is acceptable.”

The amendment restores funding to three DHS grant programs that were cut:

— Urban Areas Security Initiative: designated high-threat, high-density urban areas use these funds for planning, equipment and training - including development of evacuation plans and communication devices to enable law enforcement to stay connected in emergencies.

— State Homeland Security Grant Program: states use these funds to develop and implement their homeland security strategies, including planning and equipment, training for first responders, surveillance systems for bridges and tunnels, and public education and outreach.

— Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program: law enforcement and public safety officials use these funds for intelligence gathering, information sharing, and protecting our borders and waterways.


DHS OIG Report: Progress in Developing the National Asset Database

Mikulski, Clinton Promise to Fight for Needed Homeland Security Funding

Mikulski, Sarbanes Allocate Funds for Maryland in Homeland Security Spending Bill

Mikulski Supports Increased Homeland Security Funding For High Threat Areas

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