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Written testimony of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson for a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing titled “The Homeland Security Department’s Budget Submission for Fiscal Year 2016”

Release Date: 
April 29, 2015

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member Carper, and members of the Committee:

On behalf of the 225,000 men and women of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), I thank you for your continued support. We appreciate the hard work and leadership many on this subcommittee provided in delivering a full-year FY 2015 appropriation for DHS under very difficult circumstances. The $39.7 billion in net discretionary funding provided by Congress for this year fully funds our vital homeland security missions.

Now, we turn to Fiscal Year 2016.

The President’s FY 2016 Budget for DHS is $64.9 billion in total budget authority, $51.9 billion in gross discretionary funding, $41.2 billion in net discretionary funding, and $4.0 billion in discretionary fees. As part of total DHS funding, $6.7 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) is provided, pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Figure 1: Total Budget Authority
Figure 1: Total Budget Authority

 

The President’s budget request for FY 2016 also proposes to end sequestration. Unless Congress acts to prevent it, sequestration kicks in again in 2016. This would bring homeland security funding to its lowest level, adjusted for inflation, in a decade. Now is not the time to take such a huge step backward in our Nation’s homeland security funding. At a sequester level, funding for the Department would be inadequate to continue paying for our current workforce and programs. Meanwhile, pay and inflation costs would automatically increase notwithstanding sequestration. Many other key initiatives that were funded in FY 2015 would be discontinued or sharply curtailed. These initiatives include added border security on our southern border, more CBP officers, more ICE attorneys for immigration enforcement, and more HSI agents. Furthermore, the FY 2016 budget includes requests to implement recommendations of the United States Secret Service Protective Missions Panel. If sequestration returns, our ability to fully fund this, too, is jeopardized. We need to move forward, not backward, in our funding of homeland security.

Our FY 2016 Budget focuses resources in each of the Department’s mission areas: prevent terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage our borders, enforce and administer our immigration laws, safeguard and secure cyberspace, and strengthen national preparedness and resilience.

Since taking office in December 2013, I have also made management reform a top priority in the Department. In my view, improving the effectiveness and efficiency by which we pursue our missions is itself a homeland security imperative.

Counterterrorism and Enhancing Security

As I have said many times, counterterrorism must remain the cornerstone of DHS’s mission.

Safeguarding critical infrastructure and implementation of layered security on land, in the air, and on the sea are essential to combating any terrorist threat. The Department has prioritized investments in technology and risk-based, intelligence-driven programs like the Transportation and Security Administration’s (TSA) Pre✓® and Global Entry, and in the assets necessary to carry out DHS front-line missions today and in the future. The President’s FY 2016 Budget will fund key priorities including a DHS data framework, enhancing information sharing between critical vetting programs, and service life extension of radiation portal monitors to sustain compliance with the SAFE Port Act. In this mission area, the FY 2016 President’s Budget includes funding requests for the following key investments:

  • $3.7 billion for TSA screening operations to continue aviation security at prior year levels, and more effectively align passenger screening resources based on risk. These risk-based security initiatives maximize security capabilities and expedite the screening process for low-risk travelers.
  • Support for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Trusted Traveler Programs, which provide expedited travel for pre-approved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks. CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs reached record numbers of enrollment in FY 2014. An additional 1.25 million people enrolled in the agency’s Trusted Traveler Programs (Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST) this fiscal year to bring total enrollment to more than 3.3 million members. Global Entry, the agency’s largest program with more than 1.7 million members, is operational at 42 U.S. airports and 12 Preclearance locations, serving 99 percent of incoming travelers to the United States. CBP added nine Global Entry kiosk locations this fiscal year and enrolled its one millionth member in NEXUS.
  • $101 million for Radiological and Nuclear Detection Equipment Acquisition with which the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and other DHS components, including the Coast Guard, CBP, and TSA, keep U.S. ports of entry safe and secure by detecting and interdicting illicit radioactive or nuclear materials.
  • $94.5 million for Infrastructure Security Compliance funding to secure America’s high-risk chemical facilities through the systematic regulation, inspection, and enforcement under the authority of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards. The request includes $16 million to enhance regulation of the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate.
  • $86.7 million to enhance White House Complex security, consistent with the recommendations of the United States Secret Service (USSS) Protective Missions Panel.
  • $83.3 million for the BioWatch Program to provide detection and early warning of the intentional release of select aerosolized biological agents.
  • $29.4 million for Visa Information Update System. This new program will allow non-immigrant visa holders to provide updated biographic and travel related information through a public website. The system will complement the existing visa application process and enhance CBP’s ability to make pre-travel risk determinations.
  • $65.8 million for the National Protection and Programs Directorate Replacement Biometric System. This system will replace the legacy Automated Biometric Identification System. In addition to reduced operating costs, the new system will have improved detection capabilities, more efficient processing, and improved scalability.

Securing and Managing Our Borders

The Department has committed historic levels of front-line personnel, technology, and infrastructure to border security to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants and illicit contraband while fostering legal trade and travel. Over time, this investment has yielded positive results. The reality is that illegal migration is a fraction of what it used to be. In the year 2000, apprehensions on the southern border-- which are an indicator of total attempts to cross the border -- exceeded 1.6 million. Apprehensions on the southern border have dropped considerably since then, to around 400,000 a year in recent years. Apprehensions are in fact at their lowest rate since the 1970s.

Figure 2: USBP Apprehensions FY2000-FY2014
Figure 2: Southwest Border
USBP Apprehensions FY2000 – FY2014

 

These numbers are no doubt partially due to economic conditions and trends in the U.S., Mexico and Central America, but also due to the very large investment this Nation has made in border security over the last 15 years. Today’s Border Patrol has the largest deployment of people, vehicles, aircraft, boats and equipment along the southwest border in its 90-year history.

Without a doubt, we had a challenge last summer, with the unprecedented number of unaccompanied children and others who crossed a narrow area of our southern border into the Rio Grande Valley, in search of a family member and a better life in this country. We responded aggressively with more people and resources on the southern border. Beginning in mid-June 2014 the numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border declined sharply. As the chart below reflects, the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the southern border, month-to-month, are the lowest it has been in several years. As of March 31, 2015, the total number for the fiscal year is 45% less than it was the same time last year.

Figure 3: USBP Unaccompanied Children Apprehensions FY2012-FY2015
Figure 3: U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border
Unaccompanied Children Apprehensions FY2012-FY2015

 

Meanwhile, as the chart below reflects, month-to-month, total apprehensions on the southern border are also significantly lower than they were this time over the last several years. Through March 31, 2015, total apprehensions this fiscal year is 28% less than it was the same time last year.

Figure 4: USBP Unaccompanied Children Apprehensions FY2012-FY2015
Figure 4: U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border
Total Apprehensions FY2012-FY2015

 

But, we are not declaring “mission accomplished” when it comes to border security. I am committed to building an even more secure border.

In the future, DHS will more effectively execute its border security responsibilities by implementing our new DHS-wide, inter-component Southern Border Campaign for securing the U.S. Southern Border and approaches. This Campaign will direct DHS resources in a much more collaborative fashion with pre-identified, Secretary-approved, outcomes and targets for the range of threats and challenges, including illegal migration, illegal drug, human and arms trafficking, the illicit financing of all these operations, and the terrorist threat. The FY 2016 Budget supports this effort by requesting resources needed to support officer and agent staffing along the border, maintaining all statutory personnel floors, while supporting the 2,000 additional CBP officers first funded in FY 2014. The Budget retains critical border patrol, watch-list, and targeting technology that enhance the capabilities of front-line officers and agents, and investments in Coast Guard recapitalization. Funding is included for securing and managing our borders in the following key areas:

  • Salaries, benefits, and operating costs for 21,370 Border Patrol agents and 23,871 CBP officers.
  • Resources to complete the hiring and training of up to 2,000 new CBP officers, to achieve a total end-strength of 23,871 CBP officers. This effort, which commenced in FY 2014, is already yielding faster processing and inspection of passengers and cargo at U.S. ports of entry, as well as more seizures of illegal items, such as drugs, guns, and counterfeit goods.
  • Resources for Coast Guard port security screening to secure key transportation nodes through security/background checks to ensure unauthorized and illicit individuals do not gain access to, or disrupt, key transportation and commerce nodes. All crew, passengers, and cargo of vessels over 300 tons are screened prior to arrival in U.S. waters, to mitigate potential risks to our borders.
  • $373 million to maintain the necessary infrastructure and technology along the Nation’s borders to ensure law enforcement personnel are supported with effective surveillance technology to improve their ability to detect and interdict illegal activity in a safer environment.
  • Provides funds for the costs associated with apprehension and care of up to 104,000 unaccompanied children. A portion of these funds will be used to prepare facilities for families and unaccompanied children in the event of a surge that exceeds prior year apprehension levels. The request proposes up to $162 million in contingency obligation authority—enabling CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to respond effectively in the event migration volume significantly surpasses prior-year levels.
  • Support for Coast Guard recapitalization to include $340 million for production of six Fast Response Cutters (FRCs); $102 million to convert Air National Guard C 27J aircraft for Coast Guard use; $91.4 million for National Security Cutter (NSC) structural enhancement and post-delivery activities; and $18.5 million to complete preliminary design evaluation of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC). Recapitalization will ensure Coast Guard’s continued ability to enforce laws and treaties and guard the maritime domain against illegal activity and potential acts of terrorism.
  • $85.3 million for the Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Equipment Refresh and Recapitalization program. The NII systems allow for passive radiation scanning and X-ray/gamma-ray imaging of cargo and conveyances. Large scale NII systems perform 7.2 million examinations per year at the ports of entry. In FY 2016, DHS will begin replacement of NII systems that exceed designed life expectancy.
  • $90 million for Coast Guard operations and maintenance funds to support the delivery of new and more capable assets, including $17.2 million in operations and maintenance for two new Coast Guard FRCs, which will provide critical maritime border security along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

Enforcing and Administering Our Immigration Laws

Each year Congress provides the Department resources for the prioritized removal of a portion of those living unlawfully in the United States. DHS allocates its resources to address the highest risks, targeting criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety, recent border crossers, and employers who ignore our immigration laws. The FY 2016 Budget continues the Administration’s efforts to more effectively focus the enforcement system and our finite resources on identifying and removing high-priority individuals. For FY 2016, the Budget includes funds to enable ICE to maintain more than the 34,000 detention beds and other funds requested for enforcing and administering our immigration laws, including the following:

  • $3.3 billion to provide safe, secure, and humane detention and removal of removable individuals who are held in Government custody because they present a risk of flight, a risk to public safety, or are subject to mandatory detention.
    • Funds to supervise approximately 87,000 individuals (average per day by the end of FY 2016), including an additional $94.5 million to support adult detention beds for higher risk individuals and $122.5 million for the more cost-effective Alternatives to Detention program for those who are not considered a threat to our communities. The Alternatives to Detention program places low-risk individuals under various forms of intensive supervision or electronic monitoring rather than in detention.
    • $129.4 million to identify and apprehend immigration fugitives in the United States, with an emphasis on those who pose the greatest risk to national security and public safety.
    • $345.3 million to fund an increased number of family beds to address the surge in families with children crossing the U.S. southern border illegally.
    • The FY 2016 President’s Budget proposes $45 million of Custody Operations funding be appropriated as five-year funding. This extension of funds availability (from one to five years) allows ICE to improve the cost efficiency of detention bed rates.

Safeguarding and Securing Cyberspace

Cybersecurity is of growing relevance to our national and economic security. At DHS, we are building an agile and responsive cybersecurity capability. Central to our efforts is the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, or NCCIC. We are finalizing plans to open a satellite office in Silicon Valley that will serve as another point of contact with our friends in the technology industry. It is also my hope that an office in Silicon Valley will help us steal more private sector talent to help us realize our plans. I am already in the hunt to hire a new NCCIC director. I am personally participating in efforts to look for a recognized all-star in the cybersecurity field, and I believe we are going to hire such a person soon. My goal is to make the NCCIC a 24/7 cybersecurity operations center that brings together government and business, working side by side to assess and reduce the risks to America’s cyber systems. We are enabling the NCCIC to provide near real-time automated information sharing to the private sector. Later this year, we will be in a position to begin to accept cyber threat indicators from the private sector in automated near real-time format.

Funding in this request supports the Department’s two flagship cyber acquisition programs—the National Cybersecurity Protection System and Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation--which enhance cybersecurity situational awareness and information sharing. Funding is also included to sustain the USSS network of 46 Financial Crimes Task Forces and 38 Electronic Crimes Task Forces which continues to leverage USSS partnerships with international law enforcement agencies through overseas field offices. In addition, the Department recognizes that it must maintain its own robust internal network security to be a national leader in cybersecurity. Therefore, DHS is allocating resources across all of its Components that own information technology systems as part of a plan to fix known system vulnerabilities and is preparing to implement National Protection and Programs Directorate continuous monitoring services. The FY 2016 request includes the following key resources for safeguarding and securing cyberspace:

  • The FY 2016 President’s Budget sustains ICE and USSS resources to combat cyber-crime and investigate cyber-criminals.
  • $479.8 million for Network Security Deployment, including the EINSTEIN3 Accelerated program which enables DHS to detect malicious traffic targeting federal (non-Department of Defense) networks and prevent malicious traffic from harming those networks.
  • $102.6 million for the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program which provides hardware, software, and services designed to support activities that strengthen the operational security of federal (non-Department of Defense) networks.
  • $5.1 million for the CyberSkills Management Support Initiative. This initiative is intended to bolster DHS’s ability to develop and maintain a robust cybersecurity workforce. As part of this initiative, DHS will ensure consistent execution of cybersecurity workforce support activities across the Department by consolidating these activities within the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer, consistent with other workforce management programs.

Strengthening National Preparedness and Resilience

No matter the time of day or location on a map, a disaster can strike and overwhelm any of our Nation’s communities. It is the goal of DHS to build a ready and resilient Nation through efforts to bolster disaster response information sharing and collaboration. The FY 2016 President’s Budget includes $9.6 billion to support the DRF, grant programs, disaster preparedness plans, and training for our homeland security and law enforcement partners. Working closely with State, local, and tribal governments across the country, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will continue to make progress in its ability to plan, prepare for, and respond to disasters. These investments include:

  • $7.4 billion in DRF funding to provide immediate and long-lasting assistance to individuals and communities stricken by emergencies and major disasters.
  • $2.2 billion in total grants funding to prepare state and local governments to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from incidents of terrorism and other catastrophic events. These funds also include Firefighter Assistance and Emergency Management Performance Grants that support local first responders in achieving their missions.

Understanding and preparing for the impacts of a changing climate is also an Administration priority. Climate change – including an increase in prolonged periods of high temperatures, changes in precipitation, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise – is already impacting the Nation and will exacerbate many of our existing vulnerabilities. Managing these risks requires deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning across government, as well as by other stakeholders. The FY 2016 President’s Budget includes the following climate resilience investments which will strengthen our preparedness for the effects of climate change:

  • $616 million in support of the President’s Climate Resilience Initiatives:
    • $400 million to support flood mapping and risk analysis activities, which are essential to educating communities about flood risk and minimizing the loss of life and property as a result of flooding.
    • $200 million in Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants for hazard mitigation planning and/or project applications to mitigate damage associated with natural disasters.
    • $10 million for analyses of climate change impacts on infrastructure critical to national and economic security, and national public health and safety.
    • $6 million for FEMA climate workshops and regional resilience coordination.

Reforming the Management of DHS

Since taking office in December 2013, I have made management reform a top priority in the Department. Improving the effectiveness and efficiency by which we pursue our missions is itself a homeland security imperative.

Over the last 15 months, we have filled almost all the senior-level vacancies that existed in the Department. I want to express my gratitude to the Senate for confirming Russ Deyo, the President’s nominee for Under Secretary for Management, the number 3 position within the Department. In February, the President also named Joe Clancy to be the Director of the Secret Service. On Tuesday, April 28, the President will announce his nominee to be the new Administrator of the TSA.

Our “Unity of Effort” initiative has brought about a more centralized process for making decisions concerning budget requests, acquisition, strategy and other Departmental functions. Growing out of this initiative, we also realigned major DHS headquarters functions to consolidate like functions and promote efficiency. DHS is a very large conglomerate of 22 components that is only 12 years old. We are a large bureaucracy. In some ways, we are still finding our way, but we are headed in the right direction.

We have established the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign, as I mentioned earlier. We have built what I believe to be more candid and inclusive senior leadership discussions and decision-making. We have realigned seven major Department headquarters functions. We are developing a number of human capital initiatives, including a Department-wide approach to joint rotational duty assignments. And we are embarking on the Acquisition Innovation in Motion (AIM) initiative, which will be an ongoing and recurring set of activities to enhance the way the Department does business with the private sector.

DHS is one of 16 departments and agencies on Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) so-called “High Risk List.” DHS has been on that list since DHS was created in 2003, simply by virtue of the large realignment of government it took to create the Department. We are on a path to get off that list soon. In its most recent report to Congress on February 11, GAO once again noted DHS’s good progress toward getting off the list. Specifically, GAO noted that since its last report in 2013, DHS has “fully addressed” 9 of 30 risk areas, and has made significant progress toward addressing the remaining 21. Overall, GAO has stated that DHS is a “model” for how federal agencies can work to address GAO’s high risk designations. GAO also stated:

“DHS’s top leadership, including the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (who assumed leadership of the department after our 2013 update), have continued to demonstrate exemplary commitment and support for addressing the department’s management challenges. For instance, the department’s Deputy Secretary and Under Secretary for Management, and other senior management officials have frequently met with us to discuss the department’s plans and progress, which helps ensure common understanding or the remaining work needed to address our high-risk designation.”

 

Concerning morale, one of the ways we are improving is to stop telling the workforce they suffer from low morale. We have moved on. We are no longer “studying” the issue of morale. We are doing something about it. The Deputy Secretary and I are on an aggressive, multi-faceted campaign to improve morale within components of DHS. We are developing more transparency in hiring, training, promotion and mentoring opportunities. In cascading fashion, we are encouraging all leaders and managers within the Department to invest time and effort to improving morale. We are thanking and acknowledging people for their good work. In October of last year we restored the Secretary’s Awards Program, which had been dormant since 2008, to recognize more than 300 employees who have made outstanding achievements across DHS. I request that Congress continue to work with me to address DHS workforce issues, so the men and women all across the Department of Homeland Security remain upbeat, dedicated and patriotic.

 

We have improved the Department’s responsiveness to Congress. This, despite the challenge of -- depending on how you count -- 92 committees and subcommittees of Congress who claim an oversight role over this Department. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have taken note.1


1Rep. Beto O’Rouke (D-TX):

 

“Mr. Secretary, I want to begin by thanking you for your accountability. . . Your responsiveness to our requests and our questions and your commitment to transparency – I think there’s a long way still to go within the department, but in the last 12 months, we’ve seen more transparency than we’ve seen in hears. And so I really do appreciate that.”

 

 

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT):

 

 

“I can tell you, since you’ve taken office, the production and the response to Congress in terms of responding to our letters and inquiries is – the difference, I cannot tell you how much better it is. And I thank you and the people who work on this. I do appreciate [that].”

 

 

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK):

 

 

“Jeh Johnson has proven to be a capable leader, a transparent partner with Congress, and committed to making tough decisions and improving the Department.”

 

 

Conclusion

I thank you for the opportunity to speak with all of you and for your continued support, I look forward to your questions.

Last Published Date: February 21, 2017
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