Homeland Security Freshmen Announce Initiative to Curb Waste, Fraud, Abuse & Increase Transparency at DHS
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the freshmen Republican members of the Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, announced an initiative to help curb waste, fraud, abuse and to increase transparency at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The initiative includes seven pieces of legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., and U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y.
“I applaud the effort of my committee’s freshmen members to prove their dedication to saving taxpayers’ dollars within their first 100 days of working for their constituents in Congress,” said Chairman McCaul. “Each of these bills to curb waste, fraud, abuse and to increase transparency will help to ensure DHS is efficiently and effectively meeting its critical national security missions.”
The freshmen Homeland Security Committee members introduced the following legislation:
H.R. 1615, the DHS FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Carter on Wednesday, directs DHS’s Chief FOIA Officer to make certain improvements in the implementation the Freedom of Information Act.
“In what is supposed to be the most transparent administration in history, DHS has an abysmal record when it comes to FOIA requests,” said Rep. Carter. “It boasts the largest backlog of any federal agency and was given a D+ for its handling of them by an independent watchdog. This bill will implement desperately needed reforms to improve the process, eliminate duplication and significantly reduce the backlog while increasing transparency and accountability to the public.”
H.R. 1626, the DHS IT Duplication Reduction Act of 2015, introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Hurd, seeks to reduce duplication of information technology at the department.
“Call me crazy, but it just doesn’t make sense to have one agency using multiple IT systems that do the same thing. That’s a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Hurd. “We have to change the ‘it’s not my money, so let’s spend it’ culture in government that leads to this kind of waste. Taxpayers should be able to trust that every tax dollar is being used carefully and thoughtfully on effective, efficient government that works for the people.”
H.R. 1633, the DHS Paid Administrative Leave Accountability Act of 2015, introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Loudermilk, requires improvements to the tracking and reporting of DHS employees placed on administrative leave, or any other type of paid non-duty status, for personnel matters.
"We must hold government agencies accountable and ensure the responsible use of taxpayer money,” said Rep. Loudermilk. “The Government Accountability Office reported in October 2014 that from fiscal years 2011 through 2013, DHS employees charged approximately 1.5 million paid administrative leave days, which amounts to over $380 million. Some of these DHS employees were on paid administrative leave for over two years while lingering investigations for their misconduct were underway. This abuse of taxpayer funds must stop, and this bill will help prevent DHS employees from taking money out of the pockets of hardworking taxpayers by establishing an accountability system and severely cutting down on waste, fraud, and abuse.”
H.R. 1634, the Border Security Technology Accountability Act of 2015, introduced on Wednesday by Rep. McSally, chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, strengthens accountability for DHS’s deployment of border security technology.
“When our border technology projects lack the proper oversight or accountability, it’s bad for taxpayers, those who defend our border, and those living along our border,” said Rep. McSally. “Southern Arizonans want to see Washington act to secure our border and they expect us to do it in a smart, cost-effective way. The Border Security Technology Accountability Act will provide improved management of border security technology projects, safeguarding taxpayer dollars and increasing accountability for some of the department’s largest acquisition purchases. I am pleased to be working with my fellow freshman members on the Committee on Homeland Security on this legislation to combat waste, fraud, and abuse and increase accountability at DHS."
H.R. 1637, the Federally Funded Research and Development Sunshine Act of 2015, introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Ratcliffe, chairman of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee, requires annual reports on the activities and accomplishments of DHS’s federally funded research and development centers.
“A key role of Congress is to provide oversight. I have a duty to my constituents and the American people to be a budget watchdog and protect taxpayer dollars from fraud, waste and abuse,” said Rep. Ratcliffe. “I am grateful to be able to introduce this act and I look forward to providing effective oversight in the years to come.”
H.R. 1640, the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015, introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Walker, directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit to Congress a report on DHS’s headquarters consolidation project at St. Elizabeth’s.
“As the national debt hurtles past $18 trillion, we must be vigilant in holding Washington accountable and scrutinize every penny it spends,” said Rep. Walker. “The Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters consolidation project has been mismanaged, skyrocketing past its cost and completion estimates. This bill will fully codify the recommendations outlined by the Government Accountability Office and provide improved management of the project and increased transparency to the American people.”
H.R. 719, the TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2015, introduced in February by Rep. Katko, chairman of the Transportation Security Subcommittee, requires the Transportation Security Administration to conform to existing federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions. The bill passed the House on February 10 by a vote of 414-0.
“Threats to our nation’s transportation systems are constantly evolving, and it is critical that Congress act to preempt catastrophes at our nation’s airports by strengthening security protocols in the most cost-effective manner possible,” said Rep. Katko. “My subcommittee hearing earlier this year stemmed from security breaches in which loaded firearms were brought onto commercial airplanes by employees with airport access privileges. In light of that hearing, this bill provides a thoughtful response to create safer airports across our country by improving upon nationwide security protocols and facilitating commonsense TSA reform to save taxpayer dollars.”
*Click HERE for a summary of each bill.