House lawmakers on Thursday fired questions at the new chief of
infrastructure protection at the Homeland Security Department,
asking about the division's fiscal 2004 budget request, upcoming
deadlines and the amount of information it shares with Congress.
Kentucky Republican Harold Rogers, chairman of the Homeland
Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said during a hearing on the
information analysis and infrastructure protection directorate
that the unit's budget request did not "provide nearly enough
detailed" information and characterized the requests for funding
as "simply not adequate." Rogers and subcommittee ranking Democrat
Martin Olav Sabo of Minnesota said obtaining the budget
information for the agency, and the department overall, was
onerous, cumbersome and time-consuming.
"I wonder if we're better off spending the $800 million
elsewhere," Sabo said of the $829 million requested by the Bush
administration for the directorate, which is in charge of
assessing threats to the nation's cyber and physical
Frank Libutti, who became the division's undersecretary two
months ago, pledged to provide a more detailed budget in the
future. Responding to questions from Sabo about lawmakers not
receiving classified or unclassified information from the
department, Libutti vowed to address the panel's concerns at "any
Rogers also asked Libutti if the division would meet a Dec. 15
deadline established in the spending bill for Homeland Security to
define the scope, cost and schedule for programs to assess
security threats. Libutti said while his division would meet the
deadlines, assessing threats is an "ongoing, day-to-day
Lawmakers did not ask Libutti about a deadline his division
missed last month for a report on the current number of
intelligence and cyber-security analysts under the directorate.
The full Appropriations Committee requested the report by Aug. 30,
saying in a report on the measure that the panel "does not believe
that [the directorate] is hiring enough intelligence analysts
responsible for terrorist assessment, cyber-security threat
analysis and biowarfare threat assessment."
A committee aide said the panel is hoping to receive the report
before the House and Senate conference committee meets to finalize
the Homeland Security appropriations bill, H.R. 2555.
When National Journal's Technology Daily asked about the
missed deadline during a break, Libutti said he would take it
"under advisement." The secretary reiterated from his testimony
that his unit employs about 60 analysts, which includes
cyber-security analysts, and that Homeland Security as a whole has
more than 850 on board.
New York Democrat Jose Serrano peppered Libutti with questions
about the threat of computer viruses on the nation's
infrastructure. Libutti responded that the "cybersecurity piece"
at the division is "critical and paramount to protecting
infrastructure." It requires a "partnership" with state and local
governments, as well as the private sector, he said.
The lawmakers ended the hearing by asking Libutti to return to
Capitol Hill for a classified briefing on its various programs,
including an update on cyber-security initiatives, the national
security-alert system, and information sharing with state and