I tried to find a good blog post today that didn't have anything to do with budgets and billions of dollars, but once I get started on something I can't seem to get away from it.
I just received the transcript from Secretary Janet Napolitano's speech to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee presenting President Obama’s 2010 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. This release is fairly overwhelming, but I thought I'd share a few security initiatives that caught my attention:
Explosives Detection Systems Procurement and Installation: An increase of $565.4 million to accelerate the Electronic Baggage Screening Program (EBSP) at the nation’s airports to ensure 100 percent of all checked baggage is screened with an in-line explosive detection capability system, or a suitable alternative. This funding will support facility modifications, recapitalization efforts, as well as procurement and deployment of electronic baggage screening technology systems.
Bomb Appraisal Officers: $9 million for an additional 109 Bomb Appraisal Officers (BAOs) to provide expertise in the recognition of and response to improvised explosive devices at airports to enhance aviation security. The request will provide BAO coverage at 50 percent more airports including all Category X, I, and II airports, and will provide a BAO in every hub-spoke airport system, and to airports that currently have only one BAO assigned.
Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response Teams: An increase of $50 million is requested to fund 15 Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams dedicated to guarding surface transportation. The VIPR teams contain multi-skilled resources, including Transportation Security Inspectors, canine teams, Transportation Security Officers, Bomb Detection Officers, and Federal Air Marshals.
Northern Border Technology: $20.0 million is requested to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in providing improved situational awareness along the northern border through the design, deployment, and integration of surveillance, sensing platforms, detection technologies and tactical infrastructure. This technology will expand DHS capabilities, increase the effectiveness of our agents, and increase the ability to detect unlawful border activity successfully.
State and Local Fusion Centers: Full support and staffing by the end of FY 2011 are requested for the 70 identified State and Local Fusion Centers, facilities where information and intelligence is shared between federal, state, local and tribal authorities. Funding is dedicated to IT maintenance, support, and training.
Intermodal Security Coordination Office (ISCO): A $10 million increase is requested for the Intermodal Security Coordination Office within DHS Policy to support integrated planning between DHS and the Department of Transportation in the area of maritime transportation, as well as in other homeland security mission areas. The Intermodal Security Coordination Office will develop a strategic plan and metrics to guide development and modernization of intermodal freight infrastructure that links coastal and inland ports to highways and rail networks.
I realize there are a lot of unhappy associations out there who would like to see more money flowing into security, but what I gathered from this speech was the effort by DHS to put money into the coordination of various security entities. I included the section on fusion centers and the Intermodal Security Coordination Office because I think that demonstrates a real effort by Napolitano to bring these disparate organizations together and encourage communication on such a large scale, which I think we can largely agree on, is a crucial element to national security.