Committee on Homeland Security

Michael McCaul

Bill to Strengthen DHS Purchasing Processes Introduced to Congress

2015/05/04

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill to streamline the purchasing process at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and save taxpayer dollars was introduced in the House of Representatives last week. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, along with Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Ranking Member Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Subcommittee Ranking Member Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J.,  introduced the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, H.R. 2199. This bipartisan legislation requires greater oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s purchasing process while ensuring needed flexibility and providing clarity for American businesses.

Subcommittee Chairman Perry said: “Congressional watchdogs continue to find failures in how DHS spends billions of taxpayer dollars on its major acquisition purchases. As a combat aviator having served in Iraq, I understand the importance of delivering tools to the field in a timely way. Frontline operators securing our borders, defending our shores, and protecting our aviation systems should not wait years longer than promised for systems that don’t perform as intended. The American people also deserve strong accountability so that their hard earned tax dollars are not put at risk. This bill seeks to fix long-standing problems at DHS to more efficiently meet its mission and better protect taxpayer dollars.”

Chairman McCaul said: “As the federal government’s third largest agency, it is imperative the men and women who protect the United States at the Department of Homeland Security have the right  tools to combat the multitude of threats that face our nation. This bipartisan legislation will ensure better management of large purchases by the department and will strengthen the management programs to ultimately better secure the homeland and save taxpayer dollars. While Secretary Johnson is taking  steps to improve DHS’s acquisition process through his Unity of Effort initiative, we can’t wait years to fix the department’s mismanaged acquisition programs. I thank Subcommittee Chairman Perry for his leadership on this important issue and am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation.”

Ranking Member Thompson said: “Congress continues to see unmistakable signs that the Department of Homeland Security has not yet tackled serious problems with acquisition management. How the Department invests in the capabilities that frontline operators need for their critical missions needs reform and better oversight. Major acquisitions must produce better results both in terms of affordability and effectiveness – we cannot continue to throw money at programs that have been unsuccessful. I am pleased to join my colleagues in co-sponsoring this legislation and thank Chairman Perry for introducing it.”  

Subcommittee Ranking Member Watson Coleman said: “American taxpayers expect federal agencies to operate efficiently and effectively, especially when it comes to national security. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security’s acquisition process has yet to meet these expectations. The DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act marks an important first step to improve this process. Specifically, the bill strengthens best management practices to drive down cost and risk; expands opportunities for small businesses; calls on DHS to invest in acquisition personnel and resources; and toughens safeguards that prevent DHS from contracting with bad actors. I look forward to working with Chairman Perry and the full committee to inject necessary reforms in these essential national security programs.”

In April, the Subcommittee held a hearing to examine recent findings by watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office that identified continued failures with DHS’s management of its major acquisition programs. GAO’s report found that, on average, programs are over three-and-a-half years late in meeting their key objectives. Cost estimates for selected programs increased by 40 percent, or almost $10 billion.

H.R. 2199 reforms DHS’s acquisition process by:

• Authorizing the Department’s Chief Acquisition Officer, the Undersecretary for Management, to approve, halt, modify or cancel major acquisition programs as needed;

• Requiring that every major acquisition program have an approved Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) document;

• Codifying the Acquisition Review Board and requiring the board to validate the documents – including the APB – and review the cost, schedule, and performance objectives of major acquisitions;

• Requiring a Multiyear Acquisition Strategy be included in each Future Years Homeland Security Program;

• Authorizing the Chief Procurement Officer to serve as the main liaison to industry and to oversee a certification and training program for DHS’s acquisition workforce;

• Compelling DHS to submit to Congress major acquisition programs that fail to meet cost, schedule, or performance metrics through quarterly status and accountability reports;

• Directing the department to find ways to streamline the acquisition process and strategically address issues regarding bid protest without creating any new offices or programs; and

• Instructing DHS to eliminate unnecessary duplication.

The full text of H.R. 2199 is available HERE.

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Statement by Chairman McCaul on the Shooting in Garland, Texas

2015/05/04

JERUSALEM – While attending meetings with government officials in Israel today, U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, released the following statement regarding the shooting Sunday evening in Garland, Texas where two gunmen were killed after they opened fire outside an event hosted by a group featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad:

Chairman McCaul: "Freedom of expression has again been attacked by fanatics. From the capitals of Europe to the streets of Garland, Texas, we have been confronted by attackers who cannot tolerate our open society. But we send a clear message to these extremists: we will not be intimidated by violence, and we will not bow down to terror."

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McCaul Opening Statement Calls on DHS Deputy Secretary Mayorkas to Respond to OIG’s Allegations

2015/04/30

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing entitled, “Allegations of Special Access and Political Influence at the Department of Homeland Security.” Watch live HERE.

Chairman McCaul’s Statement as Prepared: On March 24, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General released a report detailing allegations against Deputy Secretary Mayorkas that related to his time as Director of USCIS and his oversight of the EB-5 program.

The IG’s office conducted more than 50 interviews, reviewed more than 40,000 phone records, and obtained more than one million documents and emails. This investigation was unprecedented in that there were more than a dozen whistleblowers that came forward to the Inspector General’s office. The findings are troubling as the IG made some very serious charges against Mr. Mayorkas.

Chief among them was he used his position to influence outcomes in select cases for the benefit of politically-connected and powerful individuals.

In general, these allegations fall into four categories:

Special Access: “Their allegations were unequivocal: Mr. Mayorkas gave special access and treatment to certain individuals and parties.”

Political Favoritism: “We received complaints from USCIS employees that the application for a politically connected regional center, Gulf Coast Funds Management, received extraordinary treatment as a result of Mr. Mayorkas’s intervention.” Additionally, “USCIS staff…understood that these applicants were prominent or politically connected.”

Created or went around the established process and career staff decisions: “Mr. Mayorkas was in contact, outside of the normal adjudication process, either directly or through senior DHS leadership, with a number of stakeholders having business before USCIS…According to the employees, but for Mayorkas’s actions, the staff would have decided these matters differently.”

Misplaced Priorities: “Mr. Mayorkas’s focus on a few applicants and stakeholders was particularly troubling to employees given the massive scope of his responsibilities as Director of USCIS.” 

Two days after the release of the report, this Committee held a hearing and heard testimony directly from DHS IG John Roth.

From the report and again in his testimony before us, the IG found, Mr. Mayorkas appeared to play favorites with Democratic political operatives and inserted himself improperly in ways that influenced the outcome of cases.

These are very serious allegations and ones that, if true, should not be ignored. Although the IG did not allege that these acts were criminal in nature, they without a doubt raise questions about the Deputy Secretary’s judgement.

This was not the first time that the Inspector General’s office reviewed allegations of impropriety at USCIS. In a separate report, the IG found that in late 2009 the former USCIS Chief Counsel also placed pressure on career staff to reverse the outcome for a petition filed by a university that the Chief Counsel was connected to. In April of 2010, Mr. Mayorkas himself put out a policy memo to USCIS employees that stated:

“Each USCIS employee has the duty to act impartially in the performance of his or her official duties. Any occurrence of actual or perceived preferential treatment, treating similarly situated applicants differently, can call into question our ability to implement our nation’s immigration laws fairly, honestly, and properly.”

In examining the IG’s findings, it seems that Mr. Mayorkas repeatedly violated his own policy through his actions regarding certain EB-5 cases as USCIS Director.

As Chairman of the Committee and a former federal prosecutor in the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, I take the oversight responsibilities of this Committee very seriously.

After looking at the IG’s report and hearing the IG’s testimony last month, I felt obligated to examine the accusations made in the report in greater detail. Committee staff has analyzed over 500 pages of documents from the IG and DHS. The Committee expects to receive additional documentation from the department in the coming days.

Since our first hearing, and after reviewing the report and associated documents, I have more questions:

1)       Did Mr. Mayorkas knowingly or unknowingly violate USCIS policy to grant special access and treatment to applicants who were prominent and politically connected and overrule USCIS career staff decisions in these cases?

2)       Does the lack of judgement shown by Mr. Mayorkas in the IG report raise doubts about his ability to fulfill the responsibilities of Deputy Secretary? Specifically, DHS’s morale is ranked the lowest of any large federal agency. Mr. Mayorkas is charged with fixing this morale problem yet the morale of certain USCIS staff deteriorated under his watch.

3)       Why has Mr. Mayorkas not been held accountable for his actions? According to the 2010 policy that Mr. Mayorkas signed, “failure to adhere to the standards or the guidance set forth in this memorandum may subject the employee to disciplinary penalties up to and including removal from employment.” Political appointees at DHS should not be immune from accountability when warranted.

We, as the people’s representatives, deserve to hear the truth in these cases. However, there is no place for presumed guilt before innocence. Mr. Mayorkas is allowed the opportunity to explain and defend his actions as alleged in the IG Report. At the conclusion of our hearing on March 26, I stated that I looked forward to giving Mr. Mayorkas the opportunity to respond - today is that opportunity.

At the heart of this case is the issue of trust and credibility. In order for government to function our leaders must have the trust of the American people and those who work for them.

We can never forget that public office is a public trust. With that, I look forward to hearing from Mr. Mayorkas.

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Hearing: Allegations of Special Access and Political Influence at the Department of Homeland Security

2015/04/30

Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on the hearing: “Last month, our Committee held a hearing regarding an Inspector General investigation involving allegations against DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The report’s findings are troubling as the IG made some very serious charges against Mr. Mayorkas. Chief among them was he used his position to influence outcomes in select cases for the benefit of politically-connected and powerful individuals. Public service is a public trust and those who violate that trust must be held accountable. The Committee has reviewed the IG report, examined new documents, and continues to diligently work to better understand these allegations. After reviewing this information, I have even more questions about Mr. Mayorkas’ judgement. I look forward to hearing Mr. Mayorkas respond to these allegations.”

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Subcommittee Hearing: A Review of Access Control Measures at Our Nation's Airports, Part II

2015/04/30

Subcommittee Chairman John Katko, R-N.Y., on the hearing: “This hearing builds upon the Subcommittee’s first hearing of the 114th Congress by continuing to examine how airport access control measures can be improved at airports nationwide. In January of this year, the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) was tasked with conducting a review of airport access control measures and released a final report earlier this month. This hearing will provide an opportunity for the Subcommittee to better understand the ASAC's findings and discuss the feasibility of implementing the report's recommendations. I look forward to having a meaningful dialogue with airport stakeholders and the TSA on what can be done, going forward, to improve employee vetting and screening for those with access to sensitive and sterile parts of our nation's airports.”   

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Homeland Security Committee to Hold Two Hearings Tomorrow

2015/04/29

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, the Committee on Homeland Security and the Subcommittee on Transportation Security to hold the following hearings.

THURSDAY, April 30 at 10:00 a.m.

Committee on Homeland Security

“Allegations of Special Access and Political Influence at the Department of Homeland Security”

311 Cannon House Office Building

Witness Includes:

·         The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on the hearing: “Last month, our Committee held a hearing regarding an Inspector General investigation involving allegations against DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The report’s findings are troubling as the IG made some very serious charges against Mr. Mayorkas. Chief among them was he used his position to influence outcomes in select cases for the benefit of politically-connected and powerful individuals. Public service is a public trust and those who violate that trust must be held accountable. The Committee has reviewed the IG report, examined new documents, and continues to diligently work to better understand these allegations. After reviewing this information, I have even more questions about Mr. Mayorkas’ judgement. I look forward to hearing Mr. Mayorkas respond to these allegations.”

 

THURSDAY, April 30 at 2:00 p.m.

Subcommittee on Transportation Security    

“A Review of Access Control Measures at Our Nation's Airports, Part II”

311 Cannon House Office Building

Witnesses Include:

Panel I

·         Mr. Melvin Carraway, Acting Administrator, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Panel II

·         Ms. Jeanne Olivier, A.A.E., Assistant Director, Aviation Security and Technology, Security Operations and Programs Department, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Testifying on behalf of American Association of Airport Executives

·         Mr. Steven Grossman, Chief Executive Office/Executive Director, Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville Aviation Authority, Testifying on behalf of Airports Council International – North America

Subcommittee Chairman John Katko, R-N.Y., on the hearing: “This hearing builds upon the Subcommittee’s first hearing of the 114th Congress by continuing to examine how airport access control measures can be improved at airports nationwide. In January of this year, the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) was tasked with conducting a review of airport access control measures and released a final report earlier this month. This hearing will provide an opportunity for the Subcommittee to better understand the ASAC's findings and discuss the feasibility of implementing the report's recommendations. I look forward to having a meaningful dialogue with airport stakeholders and the TSA on what can be done, going forward, to improve employee vetting and screening for those with access to sensitive and sterile parts of our nation's airports.”

*LIVE video of the hearings will be available here.

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Subcommittee Hearing: Terrorism in Africa: The Imminent Threat to the United States

2015/04/29

Subcommittee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., on the hearing: “We are ever mindful of the continuing threat to our nation from terrorist groups originating in the Middle East and Afghanistan—in particular the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. While our nation must continue to address the longstanding danger posed by  these groups, we must also focus on the imminent and growing threat posed by their affiliates operating in Africa. In recent months, we have seen Africa-based Islamist terrorist groups perpetrate numerous acts of violence against innocent people. As Islamist jihadi groups extend their influence in Africa, they are increasingly calling for more attacks on U.S. and Western interests, including attacks on the U.S. Homeland. As we fight ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, we cannot afford to ignore their allies and affiliates in Africa. This hearing will examine the terrorist threat from groups across Africa and assess what more must be done do to protect our citizens and prevent another terrorist attack in the United States.”  

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McCaul Statement on Admiral Neffenger’s Nomination as TSA Administrator

2015/04/28

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, released the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement of his intent to nominate Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger, the current Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, to be the next Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA):

Chairman McCaul: “Over the past several years, TSA has moved from a one-size-fits-all approach to aviation security to a risk-based, intelligence driven counterterrorism agency. TSA has the important responsibility of protecting the nation's transportation systems and it is imperative that it has consistent and effective leadership. I commend the Administration for nominating Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger as the next TSA Administrator. I am confident that his extensive experience in homeland security, as well as the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, will serve the TSA workforce and the American traveling public well. It has been a pleasure working with former Administrator John Pistole. He has led the TSA through some very challenging times, and I wish him well in his retirement."

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King to Hold Hearing on Terrorism Threat Emanating from Africa — TOMORROW

2015/04/28

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence will hold a hearing to examine the terrorism threat emanating from Africa.

WEDNESDAY, April 29 at 12:00 p.m.

Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence

“Terrorism in Africa: The Imminent Threat to the United States”

311 Cannon House Office Building

Witnesses Include:

·         Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director, Africa Center, Atlantic Council

·         Mr. Thomas Joscelyn, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies

·         Dr. Daniel Byman, Research Director, Center for Middle East Policy, Center for Security Studies, Brookings Institute

Subcommittee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., on the hearing: “We are ever mindful of the continuing threat to our nation from terrorist groups originating in the Middle East and Afghanistan—in particular the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. While our nation must continue to address the longstanding danger posed by  these groups, we must also focus on the imminent and growing threat posed by their affiliates operating in Africa. In recent months, we have seen Africa-based Islamist terrorist groups perpetrate numerous acts of violence against innocent people. As Islamist jihadi groups extend their influence in Africa, they are increasingly calling for more attacks on U.S. and Western interests, including attacks on the U.S. Homeland. As we fight ISIS and al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, we cannot afford to ignore their allies and affiliates in Africa. This hearing will examine the terrorist threat from groups across Africa and assess what more must be done do to protect our citizens and prevent another terrorist attack in the United States.” 

*LIVE video of the hearing will be available here.

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McCaul Op-Ed: Preventing a cyber Pearl Harbor (Austin American-Statesman)

2015/04/27

Every day, America is under attack. The digital networks of American businesses and the U.S. government are under siege from dangerous cyber hackers intent on stealing trade secrets and sensitive information. And hackers who aren’t there to steal are preying on our networks to destroy systems and wreak havoc.

The attacks on Target and Home Depot stole the personal information and credit cards of millions of Americans. The cyber breach at Anthem compromised the health care accounts of 80 million individuals — affecting 1 out of every 4 Americans in the most private way.

When North Korea hacked Sony Pictures, the North Koreans weren’t there to steal. They snuck in to Sony’s digital network to cause destruction and embarrassment and to chill our freedom of speech.

People always ask me what keeps me up at night — in addition to the kinetic threats posed by ISIS and al-Qaida — it is cyberattacks on our nation that concern me the most. Our offense capabilities are strong, but our cyber defense capabilities are weak. We cannot sent a signal of weakness to our adversaries.

If North Korea had targeted an American utility network rather than an entertainment company, imagine the chaos. Rather than Americans reading embarrassing internal emails of Sony Pictures executives and movie stars, entire cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas could have gone dark, ATM machines, traffic lights and all. The spate of increasing cyberattacks on American computer systems is alarming and very dangerous. Iran attacks our financial sector on a daily basis in response to the sanctions we have imposed.

Last week the U.S. Congress took decisive action to help protect America’s cyber networks. What we saw on Capitol Hill last week was really astounding. The partisan bickering that often plagues Congress was absent as Republicans and Democrats alike, in the House of Representatives, joined together to pass a cybersecurity bill that will significantly boost the ability of private companies and the U.S. government to better protect their digital networks.

The National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act, which I introduced in Congress just two weeks ago, passed the House with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 355-63.

The bill protects our nation’s networks, both public and private, by removing the legal barriers to the sharing of cyber threat information. This bill is pro-privacy, it is pro-security, and it has widespread support from industry. Participation in the sharing of vicious malware threats is voluntary. It allows us a stronger hold on the keys to our networks to lock the door and keep these nation states and criminals out.

Nation states like Russia and China continue to steal our intellectual property and conduct espionage against our nation. Gen. Keith Alexander described this cyber thievery as “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

No one is immune to cyberattacks. Everyone is at risk. The recent hacking by Russians into the U.S. State Department and White House computer systems shows that American networks across the board are vulnerable.

We also face a growing threat from cyber terrorists, like the ISIS sympathizers who hacked U.S. Central Command’s social media account. Terrorists and state-sponsors of terror, like Iran, want nothing more than to carry out a destructive cyberattack to cause chaos and shut things down in the United States, including our power grids.

Many refer to the very real threat of a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” Today, this generation faces different threats to our national security that the generations before us. We now live in a new threat environment where digital bombs can go undetected and cause massive devastation. The cyber security bill I introduced, and that passed overwhelmingly by Congress last week, will help protect America in this new frontier.

Read more here: http://homeland.house.gov/news/mccaul-op-ed-preventing-cyber-pearl-harbor-austin-statesman

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Contact Information

H2-176 Ford HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-226-8417
Fax 202-226-3399
homeland.house.gov


Membership

Louis Barletta

PENNSYLVANIA's 11th DISTRICT

Buddy Carter

GEORGIA's 1st DISTRICT

Curt Clawson

FLORIDA's 19th DISTRICT

Jeff Duncan

SOUTH CAROLINA's 3rd DISTRICT

Will Hurd

TEXAS' 23rd DISTRICT

John Katko

NEW YORK's 24th DISTRICT

Peter King

NEW YORK's 2nd DISTRICT

Barry Loudermilk

GEORGIA's 11th DISTRICT

Tom Marino

PENNSYLVANIA's 10th DISTRICT

Michael McCaul

TEXAS' 10th DISTRICT

Martha McSally

ARIZONA's 2nd DISTRICT

Candice Miller

MICHIGAN's 10th DISTRICT

Steven Palazzo

MISSISSIPPI's 4th DISTRICT

Scott Perry

PENNSYLVANIA's 4th DISTRICT

John Ratcliffe

TEXAS' 4th DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

ALABAMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Lamar Smith

TEXAS' 21st DISTRICT

Mark Walker

NORTH CAROLINA's 6th DISTRICT