Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards program funding in jeopardy

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Carter (R-Texas) voiced concerns on Tuesday regarding continued funding of the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards program.

Their apprehensions about the CFATS program were sent to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Recent shortcomings in the program prompted the letter, in which the congressional leaders expressed serious reservations about continuing to fund the program unless significant progress is made.

"The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General, and the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection itself have all recognized that, over the past five years, DHS's ineffectual management and implementation of the CFATS program has frustrated the Department's critical mission to secure America's facilities containing chemicals of interest," Upton, McCaul and Carter said.

The congressmen pointed out flaws in the CFATS program's risk evaluation system in their letter. Other issues they found rested in compliance hurdles, implementation delays and the failure to find vulnerable facilities.

"As the authorizers and appropriators of this program, we write to you to express serious reservations about continuing to extend CFATS funding without evidence of substantial programmatic improvement," Upton, McCaul and Carter said. "The basic programmatic building blocks of CFATS are missing, and we are running short on both patience and confidence with regard to the Department's ability to correct its deficiencies."

The congressmen requested a series of reports from the Department of Homeland Security, which they hope will lead to ways to improve the CFATS program.