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Testimony of Secretary Napolitano before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Homeland Security, "FY 2010 Budget Request" (Oral Testimony)

Release Date: 
May 14, 2009

Rayburn House Office Building

Secretary Napolitano:  Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman [Representative David Price], ranking member [Representative Jerry] Lewis, members of the subcommittee, for the opportunity to testify about the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] portion of President Obama's budget proposal for FY 2010 as noted. Proposed total budget for DHS is $55.1 billion, which includes $42.7 billion in appropriated funding. It's also noted DHS performs a broad range of activities across a single, driving mission to secure America from the entire range of threats that we face.

The department's leadership in the past couple of weeks in response to the H1N1 flu outbreak only proves the breadth of this department's portfolio. We also are focused on the need to make DHS a stronger, more effective department. In my view, this budget strengthens our effort in the five main mission areas where we need to focus in order to secure the American people.

First, guarding against terrorism—the founding purpose and perennial top priority of the department.

Second, securing our borders—an effort even more urgent as the United States looks to do its part to counter the rise in cartel violence in Mexico.

Third, smart and effective enforcement of our immigration laws. We need to both facilitate legal immigration and pursue enforcement against those who violate our nation's immigration standards. 

Next, improving our preparation for, response to and recovery from disasters—not just hurricanes, that season begins in a few weeks—tornados, earthquakes, fire, flood—I spoke with Congressman Rogers just yesterday about the situation in Kentucky—but also unexpected situations like the H1N1 flu. 

And, lastly, creating a unified Department of Homeland Security—we need to work together as one Department to ensure we operate at full strength. This is important, as this subcommittee knows, our Department is an amalgam of 22 different agencies that were put together after 9/11, and in some respects the part of unifying the department is still a work in progress. That accounts in part for the increase in administrative costs that you noticed, Congressman, because when the Department was formed it did not bring with it the program managers' acquisition special, all the things that make sure that the taxpayer dollars go where they're supposed to go and are well-spent. We are building that infrastructure now. 

Within those five mission areas, there are at least three approaches that cross-cut. We are seeking to expand our partnerships with state, local and tribal governments, the first detectors and the first responders.

Technology portfolio—investing in proven technologies and in new technologies that can increase our capabilities, all the while being mindful of the privacy and other interests that are implicated. 

And third, maximizing efficiency. Through a program entitled Efficiency Review that   we launched in March, we are determined to ensure that every security dollar is spent in the most effective way. This proposed budget adheres to the President's major reform goals—government efficiency, transparency and cohesion—will play a major part in bringing about a new culture of responsibility and fiscal discipline within DHS. The DHS budget request is based on alignment with the Department's priorities and programs were assessed based on effectiveness and on risk.

Budget priorities—to guard against terrorism, the first mission. The proposal includes $121 million to fund research for new technologies that detect explosives in public places and transportation networks. $87 million for new measures to protect critical infrastructure and cyber networks from attack. And enhanced information sharing among federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement. 

For border security—this budget proposal includes $116 million to deploy additional staff and technology to the southwest border to disrupt southbound smuggling of drugs and bulk cash to combat cartel violence and $40 million for Smart Security Technology funding on the northern border to expand and integrate surveillance systems there.

To ensure smart and effective enforcement of our immigration laws, the budget proposal includes $112 million to strengthen E-Verify, to help employers maintain a legal workforce. A total of $198 million for the Secure Communities Program, which helps state, tribal, and local law enforcement target criminal aliens. And improved security and facilitated trade and tourism through the WITI [Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative] initiative and US-VISIT. 

To help Americans prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters, the budget proposal includes from $210 million to $420 million. It doubles the number of frontline firefighters supported in the budget. It has a $600 million increase to the Disaster Relief Fund, to help individuals and communities affected by disasters. It strengthens pre-disaster hazard mitigation efforts, as well, to reduce injuries, loss of life and destruction of property.

To unify the Department, this budget proposal also includes $79 million for the consolidation of DHS headquarters, which will bring 35 disparate offices together, which will generate significant savings, in the long run. It also provides $200 million to consolidate and unify our IT infrastructure and bring all of DHS within one system, as opposed to the myriad systems we are operating under now. 

In my few months as Secretary, I have seen a number of remarkable accomplishments by the men and women of this department, in addition to the challenges we have faced. I have seen this Department's potential. I believe we have a path to realizing it. We are aiming to do even better at achieving our security mission. This budget will help our Department do just that. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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