What does the Ryan-Murray deal do for integrators?
WASHINGTON—Hailed in some corners as a rare example of political compromise, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, known as the Ryan-Murray agreement, could also be the near-term fiscal solution that integrators are looking for.
Jake Parker, government relations director at the Security Industry Association, said two DHS-funded grant programs—the Port Security Grant Program and the Transportation Security Grant Program—are likely to be less hampered by the sequester in 2014 and 2015.
“Those are the two big programs we’re always interested in,” Parker told Security Systems News. “The Ryan-Murray budget has basically lifted where we thought we’d be with the sequestration caps this year and next, and switched some pressure on discretionary appropriations.”
He added: “It lets DHS appropriations increase from 2013 levels, and we’re hoping that will continue into 2015.”
Forged by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., the deal would eliminate spending cuts required by the sequester over the next two years in exchange for imposing sequester cuts in 2022 and 2023. SIA is now waiting to see the presidential budget for 2015, expected to be announced in early March.
“We’re looking forward to an appropriations process that resembles what it’s supposed to be, where you have a process and oversight hearing for each of the federal agencies, and each of the 12 appropriations bills are considered as stand-alone bills,” Parker said. SIA supports an appropriations process that maximizes oversight and gives Congress the opportunity to “have influence over what the administration does,” Parker said.
SIA continues to back a bill seeking long-term reauthorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards or CFATS. A legislative hearing for the House Homeland Security Subcommittee is scheduled for the end of February, and the bill is expected to hit the floor soon after the full Homeland Security Committee meets in April, Parker said.
“The feedback from our members is that the there’s uncertainty, year to year, with the authorization for the program that’s been given so far,” according to Parker. Mismanagement of the authorization process for the standards has “limited the buy-in from chemical facilities” in the past.
“We see a longer term reauthorization as a way to provide that certainty that they need to go ahead and make these investments and follow through with their site security plans,” Parker noted.
The House is angling to finish its bill before the Senate starts its work on it, “in the hopes the Senate would use the House-passed bill as the basis for what they’re doing,” Parker said.
On the school security front, SIA is monitoring the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, a new program included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, which was cleared by Congress in January. The omnibus spending bill contains $75 million in funding for assessing methods to improve security in schools.
The program, which will be administered by the National Institute of Justice, looks promising, according to Parker. “Fifty million [dollars] is for pilot projects for grantee school or school systems themselves to test security measures and identify the most effective ways to improve school safety,”
SIA is waiting to see how the program will be administered. The explanatory language of the bill places special emphasis on security equipment, particularly network surveillance cameras, Parker said.