Chairman Aderholt Opening Statement on Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Oversight Hearing

Jul 26, 2012

Today we will discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Security Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. To help us better understand the difficulties that this program has experienced, we welcome NPPD Deputy Under Secretary Suzanne Spaulding and Mr. Steven Caldwell from the Government Accountability Office.

As we are all unfortunately aware, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards – commonly called, “CFATS” has struggled. This was highlighted in a very disturbing internal report was leaked to the media this past December concerning the management of the CFATS program. Since the program was created in fiscal year 2007, industry stakeholders have made many improvements at their sites and spent hundreds of millions of dollars complying with CFATS policies. However, after five years – it is clear DHS has absolutely failed to fully develop an efficient and effective program. The internal memo specifically notes that the lack of well-developed direction and plan led to…and I quote… “the hiring of inappropriate people, the expenditure of significant funds for what have since been determined to be unnecessary expenses and several false starts in the direction of the program.” The memo further concludes that these and other gaps “now pose a risk to the program.”

DHS must address each of the issues that were brought to light in the memo – and provide industry the direction they need to move forward and the taxpayer with a viable program. Today, we want to hear from GAO on the difficulties that are hindering the program and from the Department on how they are addressing these issues and how the program is being restructured. In short, we want to know what we’ve gained from the nearly half a billions dollars appropriated for CFATS and how we are going to fix this broken program – a program intended to fulfill the vital mission of preventing hazardous chemicals from falling into the wrong hands.

Let me make it very clear to those of you from DHS in attendance today – this Subcommittee will not tolerate waste, fraud, and abuse…especially when we are dealing with vital security programs and our federal budget is hemorrhaging red ink.

Lastly, I also want to express my concern with the lack of outreach by NPPD to this the Committee. Last Friday, the CFATS program withdrew the Personnel Surety Program’s Information Collection Request from review at OMB. Even though this Committee – and other Congressional Committees of jurisdiction – has been very outspoken on this issue, the Department failed to notify the Committee or formally explain the reasons for the withdrawal. This lack of information sharing is unfortunate and counterproductive to effective oversight. Secretary Spaulding, will you commit today that this behavior will not continue – that you personally will ensure that NPPD will work with Congress so we can all move forward in a positive manner – working together towards a common goal of fiscally responsible and effective programs? Given the breadth of these topics, we will clearly have an interesting discussion today. Under Secretary Spaulding and Mr. Caldwell, please summarize your written testimony in a brief statement so that we will have time for a direct exchange of questions and answers. Before you begin, however, I recognize Ranking Member Price, for his opening remarks.