CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, November 27, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 5913, the DHS Accountability Act of 2012, as amended, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The bill was introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) on June 7, 2012, and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security. The Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management held a mark-up and reported the bill, as amended, to the full committee by voice vote on August 1, 2012. The following Legislative Digest is based on the text of the bill as posted on the House Majority Leader’s website.
H.R. 5913 would establish an independent advisory panel (Panel) in the legislative branch to comprehensively assess the Department of Homeland Security’s management structure and capabilities. The Panel would also make recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department’s management.
The bill would establish the requirements for appointment of each of the Panel’s eight members.
The bill would direct the Panel to assess (1) the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of DHS and its component agencies in carrying out management functions, such as program acquisition, financial management, information technology, human capital issues, performance measurement, and risk management efforts, related to homeland security; (2) the extent to which unnecessary duplication exists in such management structure and how any such duplication negatively affects the mission of protecting the United States; (3) the extent to which management of key homeland security missions is centralized under DHS; (4) options to reduce or eliminate harmful waste and duplication of effort in DHS; and (5) measures to evaluate DHS' progress in reducing and eliminating waste and duplication from its management structure and capabilities.
The bill would direct the Panel to hold hearings, provide for the attendance and testimony of witnesses as well as the production of documents, and issue subpoenas, if necessary, as the Panel may determine advisable. The co-chairman may appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and such other personnel as necessary to enable the Panel to carry out its functions. Any employee of the federal government may be detailed to the Panel without reimbursement from the Panel, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of the employee’s regular employment without interruption. The Panel is also authorized to procure the services of experts and consultants. The bill would require the federal government to provide Panel members and staff appropriate security clearances. Upon request of the Panel, the Administrator of General Services shall provide the Panel, on a reimbursable basis, with the administrative support (i.e. human resource management, budget, leasing, accounting and payroll) necessary for the Panel to carry out its duties.
The bill would also require the Panel to submit to the Congress an interim report not later than one year after the date of the appointment of all of the members of the Panel. The Panel would be required to submit to Congress a final report not later than two years after the date of the appointment of all of the members of the Panel. The bill would require the Panel to terminate 60 days after the date of the submission of its final report.
According to the bill’s findings, the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management held a series of four hearings related to the management of DHS. The hearings found that DHS has not prioritized the missions outlined in its key strategic planning documents, which may hinder the Department’s efforts to effectively manage risks to the United States. The hearings also found that the Department has considerable work ahead to achieve actions and outcomes critical to addressing persistent management challenges, including implementation of key human capital initiatives and integration of financial data essential to effective management. Areas of duplicative effort have also been identified within the Department. Additionally, investigators continue to identify cases of employee corruption within the Department and overall employee morale remains one of the lowest in the federal government.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “DHS is the third largest department in the federal government with more than 200,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $40 billion…Since 2003, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has designated the transformation of DHS has high risk because the Department had to transform 22 agencies—several with major management challenges—into one department and failure to effectively address the Department’s management risk could have serious consequences. To date, DHS remains on GAO’s ‘High-Risk List.’ However, a comprehensive management assessment of the department has yet to be conducted.”
Key findings of the Oversight Subcommittee in regards to the DHS Accountability Act of 2012 are located here.
A CBO score of H.R. 5913 was not available as of press time.