'Pay Parity' for Civil Service Is on the Line in Appropriations Vote


President Bush proposed a 2.3 percent raise for civil service employees and a 3.1 percent raise for military personnel in his budget. Congress is on track to approve the military raise, and key Washington area lawmakers are urging their colleagues to support "pay parity" for the civil service.
Hoyer sent a letter last week to Democratic members of the Appropriations Committee reminding them that he will need their votes tomorrow. Wolf also is contacting members on his side of the aisle, his spokesman said.
In the letter, Hoyer wrote that he will offer an amendment for a 3.1 percent raise tomorrow when the committee takes up the fiscal 2006 spending bill. He pointed out that Congress has provided identical raises to the military and the civil service in most years over the past two decades.
Last year, 17 Republicans joined 25 Democrats to approve a parity raise. But pay votes are never sure bets, and the Bush administration will be lobbying House members to stick with the president's proposal because some agencies face tight budgets next year. Because appropriations meetings can run for several hours, committee members often come and go from the room as they conduct other business, and sometimes they miss votes on amendments.
Hoyer, in closing his letter, said that "the [pay] amendment will need the support of all 29 Democratic members for it to prevail if a roll call vote is requested." He asked that Democrats who might not attend the meeting give him a phone call.
No Deal Between Unions
The National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees appear to be going their separate ways at the Customs and Border Protection bureau in the Department of Homeland Security.
NTEU has withdrawn a request at the Federal Labor Relations Authority that would have created joint NTEU-AFGE representation of Customs and Border Protection employees. The bureau was created in the 2003 merger of the Customs Service (where NTEU was the primary union), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (an AFGE stronghold) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (where two unions represented employees).
With no agreement, union leaders said they expect the labor relations authority to call an election before year's end that will leave it to Customs and Border Protection employees to decide which union should represent their interests. NTEU represents about two-thirds of the bureau's staff, said Colleen M. Kelley , the union president.
Last year, the department told the labor relations authority that it wanted to reduce the number of union contracts at Customs and Border Protection because of the agency consolidations and the reclassification of key jobs at ports and border crossings. The department's petition intensified coalition talks between NTEU and AFGE that had started the previous year.
Kelley said the coalition talks broke down because the unions operate differently in the field and in how they represent employees. John Gage , AFGE president, said primary sticking points involved which union would control bargaining teams and take charge of litigation.
"We couldn't make the deal," Gage said. "So it looks like here we go to an election, which will eat up resources and hurt both unions."
Issues and Answers
Major voices in the debate over the future of the civil service will participate in a panel discussion tomorrow led by Patricia McGinnis , president of the Council for Excellence in Government.
The panel features Clay Johnson III , a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget and a chief architect of the administration's federal workforce policies; David M. Walker , comptroller general and head of the Government Accountability Office; and union leaders Gage and Kelley.
The forum is one of several being sponsored by the council and The Washington Post. For more information on the forum, go to http://www.excelgov.org .

http://www.washingtontechnology.com/news/20_12/datastream/26432-1.html

The news in brief
06/20/05

FSS commissioner, deputy to retire
With consolidation of the Federal Supply Service with the Federal Technology Service looming, the top two executives for the Federal Supply Service announced they are retiring.

In an e-mail to FSS workers, Commissioner Donna Bennett announced she will leave July 3, and that Lester Gray, deputy commissioner since 1997, resigned as of June 3.

"This will be a bittersweet moment for me, especially as I acknowledge I will be the last FSS commissioner," Bennett said in her e-mail. Bennett was commissioner for five years.GSA's draft plan draws fire
Congress and industry joined in criticizing the General Services Administration's newly released reorganization plan.

The plan does not follow closely enough legislation now in Congress to combine the Federal Technology and Federal Supply services and merge the IT and General Supply funds, said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), sponsor of the legislation.

The plan is missing the tighter management control that the House Government Reform Committee envisioned, Davis said. Also missing are details such as reporting structure of the new Federal Acquisition Service, and accountability and compliance with rules, regulations and laws, said officials of the Professional Services Council, Contract Services Association of America, and Information Technology Association of America.

GSA has been working on the draft plan since February. A final strategy is expected in July.

OMB: A-76 saves big bucks
Public-private competitions for agency IT positions garnered expected savings of more than $36,000 per position studied in fiscal 2004, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Agencies opened 2,207 full-time IT positions to competition under OMB Circular A-76, and estimated it would save each department an average of $5.4 million annually over the next five years.

But the American Federation of Government Employees criticized OMB's claims of cost savings as unverifiable and not accurately reflective of costs for privatization reviews, such as a Commerce Department effort that, according to Freedom of Information Act documents, cost more than $40,000 per employee reviewed.

Justice IG: weak IT hurts watch list
A new report from the Justice Department's inspector general said the government's terrorist watch list consolidation center, the Terrorist Screening Center, has suffered from poor IT management.

According to the report, the screening center, which had a $29 million budget for fiscal 2005, lagged in creating a technical advisory group. Also, the Homeland Security Department promised but failed to merge the multiple watch lists last year.

The center's first database ran on proprietary software, was riddled with duplications and could not export data to agencies except via "sneakernet," it said. Center workers had to manually enter daily updates and overwrite the database, eliminating historical information.

The database was phased out in April, replaced by a much-improved second version. But a third version with real-time connectivity to agencies could take years, because it will require upgrades to the other agencies' systems, the report said.

Study finds e-gov stumbling
The Presidential e-Government Initiatives of 2000 have lost much of their steam because people still prefer to interact with federal agencies over the telephone, according to a report from Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass.

One reason is that citizens contact the government predominantly for personal rather than business reasons, said Alan Webber, a consulting analyst. Although people may use the Internet for other aspects of their lives, they don't completely trust the Web for personal transactions, he said.

Get ready to pitch for JHITS
The Defense Information Systems Agency issued a request for proposals for the $300 million, Joint Hawaii Information Transfer Service contract for telecommunications services in the state.

The program will provide voice and data communications services for the Defense Department and other authorized users in Hawaii via end-to-end, common-user switched and dedicated transmission services.

Proposals for JHITS are due by Aug. 3. DISA plans to award the contract in January 2006.

DHS IG: IT systems unprepared
The Homeland Security Department is not ready to recover its IT systems following a disaster, according to a report from DHS acting Inspector General Richard Skinner.

Fifteen of the 19 IT facilities reviewed either had no recovery sites or only partially operational recovery sites, the IG found. Continuity of operations plans also were inadequate, with deficiencies in 25 of the 31 planning documents reviewed.

To remedy the problems, the IG is recommending the department implement an enterprisewide disaster recovery solution.

DHS seeks ID management info
The Homeland Security Department wants ideas on how to launch a major Identity Management Project for its 180,000 employees, as well as for state, local and federal contractors and officials.

The department has issued a 29-page request for information for a system that could handle up to 2 million authentications daily.

Alliant RFPs expected in August
The request for proposals for the $65 billion Alliant contracts for governmentwide IT services will be issued in August, rather than July as originally planned, according to Neal Fox of the General Services Administration.

GSA will issue the 10-year awards in summer 2006, said Fox, assistant commissioner for commercial acquisitions at the agency's Federal Supply Service. The agency issued draft RFPs for the Alliant Full and Open contract and Alliant Small Business contract March 31.

OMB issues draft changes to FEA
The Office of Management and Budget has given agencies a jump-start in compiling their fiscal 2007 budget requests.

The Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office outlined new subfunctions for the health and human resources business lines, and clarified definitions for two subfunctions and three new lines of business.

The draft FEA Reference Model Revision summary also includes clarifications for the Service and Performance reference models. Officials said they did not update the Technical Reference Model. An interagency task force is updating the Data Reference Model.

IG to probe major DHS deals
Major homeland security IT contracts won by Accenture Ltd., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Unisys Corp. are among more than a dozen IT programs to be scrutinized in coming months by the Homeland Security Department's Office of the Inspector General.

The IG released an updated fiscal 2005 Annual Performance Plan, listing more than 12 planned IT audits, including inquiries into the U.S. Visit screening program, DHS' human resources IT modernization initiative, and IT and telecommunications infrastructure support for the Transportation Security Administration.

House: FBI scrambles to replace VCF
A House Appropriations Committee report said the FBI is hastily preparing its latest attempt at a case-file system and is cutting corners to do so.

According to the report, bureau officials ignored FBI best practices and began building system requirements and a concept of operations for Sentinel, the follow-on to the failed Virtual Case File project, before getting an approved business case. FBI officials said an internal review process would mitigate any potential risk.

In an eerie foreshadowing of the new report's statement about hasty software work, VCF contractor Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego said earlier that its use of parallel software development teams to hasten the case management project contributed to its downfall.

VeriSign gets nod for certificates
VeriSign Inc., Mountain View, Calif., said it has been approved by the Defense Department to issue digital certificates under the External Certificate Authority program.

The certificates are required to access protected government Web sites and applications, including e-mail, remote access and digitally signed documents.

Operational Research Consultants Inc., Chesapeake, Va., is the only other provider approved by the Defense Department to operate ECA services.

Army to award AKO this month
The Army is expected to award one key contract and issue a request for proposals for another by month's end.

The contracts represent $1.4 billion in combined procurements and include the Army Knowledge Online enterprise portal and the General Fund Enterprise Business System, a consolidated approach for the service's financial-management systems.

The service also plans to issue an RFP for its IT Enterprise Solutions-2 Services contract in July. ITES-2S is a nine-year, $20 billion hardware, software and services contract vehicle.

EDS wins Medicaid project
EDS Corp. won a seven-year, $48 million contract from Massachusetts to implement and maintain a new Medicaid management information system. The contract has four option years.

The Plano, Texas, company will replace the state-run Medicaid system with a new Web-based application constructed to use the state's shared infrastructure. This infrastructure includes various shared services, such as enterprise identity management and electronic payments.

http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050619/NEWS01/506190303/1002

Saviors thanked

Khristine Elliott
The Enquirer
Battle Creek saved the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center from landing on The List this year and it'll fight to remove the Michigan Air National Guard Base from it.
That was the message from several national, state and local officials Saturday as they gave brief comments during a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Celebration of Success Open House. The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1626 of the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center thanked several key people for saving their jobs by keeping the facility off the BRAC list.
The union awarded golf balls stamped with the Federal Center's name on them to several legislators and local officials who helped in the effort. The union also served breakfast at Battle Creek Unlimited's headquarters.
But while the group celebrated the Federal Center's success, it also acknowledged that work needs to be done to get the Air National Guard Base, which is home to the 110th Fighter Wing, off the BRAC list.
U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz was among those thanked for their work. He was one of several people who talked about successful local efforts that removed the Federal Center from the list in 1993.
"I'm just thrilled the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center is going to be with us for a long, long time," he said. "We did it again with the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center. If we have to do it again, we'll do it again. ... We won on this one. Now we've got to win on the 110th."
The Pentagon's recommendations are being reviewed by the independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which will come up with a final list by Sept. 8.
Representatives of Michigan will testify at a commission hearing in St. Louis, Mo., on Monday. Schwarz will argue that the local Air National Guard Base should remain open.
A federal employee lives in one of every 10 houses on every residential street in the city and that says how important the Federal Center is to the community, said Mayor John Godfrey.
"We are extremely pleased to have you here," he said to union officials who also work at the Federal Center. "We appreciate the job that you do for the government. We even more so appreciate you're being wonderful citizens of the community."
Everyone is glad that the Federal Center and the Fort Custer Army National Guard Base were spared from the BRAC list, he said.
Local, state and national officials are working together to make sure the 110th Fighter Wing base stays in Battle Creek too, he said.
Local 1626 President Susan Buckley said the Federal Center would not have been able to stay off the BRAC list if it hadn't have been for Jan Burland's hard work. Burland is director of corporate projects for BCU and a member of the Citizens Base Retention Committee.
Good people are fighting for the 110th just as there were those who fought for the Federal Center this time and in 1993, Burland said.
The Pentagon's planning documents showed that it wants to cut 92 of the 274 full-time jobs at W.K. Kellogg Regional Airport Air Guard Station before it closes the base.
The remaining 182 jobs would go to Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township in fiscal year 2007 and the base would close the next fiscal year, under a Pentagon scenario.
Recommendations released by the Pentagon in May proposed closing the Kellogg Air Guard Station and sending the 110th Fighter Wing's 15 A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft to become part of the 127th Wing at Selfridge. The men and women who fly and maintain the A-10s would follow the planes to Selfridge, Air Force officials have said.
Nationwide, the Pentagon recommended closing 33 major U.S. bases and restructuring 29 others as part of a modernization plan.

http://www.longislandpress.com/?cp=162&show=article&a_id=4425

EPA UNDER FIRE OVER PESTICIDE TESTING ON CHILDREN, AGAIN

Lauren Wolfe 06/17/2005 10:56 am
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) is among a chorus of U.S. legislators condemning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of recent remarks about the testing of pesticides on children.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is under fire for suggesting that pesticide testing on children is “ethically and scientifically sound” and for characterizing the cancellation of the testing program as “an unfortunate result of public misunderstanding,” according to an open letter to Johnson from the American Federation of Government Employees. He made the remarks at a recent address to EPA employees.

The testing program, called the Children’s Health Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS), was designed to figure out safe dosing levels of pesticides on infants. The controversial idea would have entailed parents in Florida using pesticides in their homes, mostly in areas where their infants spend time. Sixty families were to be given about $1,000, a video camera and other gifts to participate over a two-year period, say Congressional members.

A few weeks ago, Johnson cancelled CHEERS, in an apparent agreement with senators like Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) that would allow him to pass a nomination to his current post at the EPA if he shut down the program.

Boxer now calls Johnson’s “nomination conversion” “as hollow as it is short-lived.”

In no uncertain terms, Rep. Bishop is speaking out against Johnson’s assertion that the testing was in any way ethical or sound.

“Testing pesticides on children is just plain wrong,” says Bishop. “America’s children are not lab rats and are not for sale.”


http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3491628&nav=0RcebBvU

Battle Creek officials headed for St. Louis to try and save military base

(Battle Creek, June 18, 2005, 6:00 p.m.) Local leaders say they are glad the federal government didn't shut down the Federal Center in Battle Creek.
But the military does plan to close a base there.
And Saturday, they gathered to gear up for a very important mission. They met over breakfast and celebrated because the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, and all of its employees, are staying in West Michigan.
"A loss of 1,800 federal center jobs...would have been a disaster on Battle Creek," said Mayor John Godfrey.
The Federal Center was scheduled for shutdown in 1993, but managed to dodge the bullet. That's why workers there sweat bullets this time around. But it's their job to make sure American troops get bullets - putting the "battle" in Battle Creek.
"It's low key and behind the scenes. [They] need parts in Iraq and better know where and how to get them," said Susan Buckley of the American Federation of Government Employees.
Keeping the Federal Center open is only half the battle. The government plans to scrap the Air National Guard base, moving the 110th fighter wing, its 400 jobs, and its 28 million dollar budget out of West Michigan.
Congressman Joe Schwarz, himself a former military man, cites cost efficiency and open skies as among the reasons to keep the 110th where it is. That's why he calls the plans to shutter the place "off base."
That's why these men and women will be in St. Louis on Monday. They're going to meet with the military to make their case for the base.
Battle Creek officials won't be the only ones in St. Louis for the base closing committee hearing.
Political Reporter Rick Albin will be in Missouri on Monday as the group from West Michigan make its case.

http://federaltimes.com/index2.php?S=921527

Unions present pay proposal to DoD

By TIM KAUFFMAN

Frustrated by what it calls resistance by Bush administration officials to consider changes to proposed personnel reforms at the Defense Department, a coalition of Defense unions has presented officials with its own plan in writing.
The proposal outlines changes the unions have endorsed to the pay, appeals and labor relations systems covering 746,000 Pentagon workers. Union leaders presented the proposal to Defense and Office of Personnel Management officials June 16.
“People can now see what the unions have proposed, in contrast to DoD,” said John Gage, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, one of the 36 unions that comprise the United DoD Workers Coalition.
Gage said Acting Defense Deputy Secretary Gordon England was receptive to the proposal and took copious notes during the one-hour meeting with coalition members.
“It seemed that Secretary England was hearing some of these things for the first time. He seemed rather taken aback about some of the collective bargaining rights that had been taken away as well as employee rights, arbitrator rights,” Gage said. “I really think it was a good opportunity to get him down in the weeds about how aggressive this language in this proposal is.”
England and OPM Acting Director Dan Blair pledged to review the coalition’s recommendations and give them full consideration, the Pentagon said.
The goal of Pentagon’s proposed system, called the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), “is to create a system that balances DoD’s vital national security mission with protecting the interests and fundamental rights of its people,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “DoD remains committed to designing a flexible civilian personnel management system that will help us attract, develop, compensate, and manage our employees in a responsible manner.”
Gage said that contrary to allegations by administration officials that the unions wanted no changes at all to the current personnel management system, the proposal outlines significant changes that adhere to many of the concepts and provisions desired by the administration.
For instance, the union proposal would create a performance-based pay system similar in design to what’s proposed under NSPS. However, the unions propose requiring that the amount of money available for raises be at least the same as what would be available under the General Schedule system, providing comparable increases to civilian and military employees and reviewing market conditions annually to determine if salaries should be adjusted.
“Many of the proposals the unions made were basically safeguards to try to alleviate our concerns that this was a move to lower overall federal pay,” Gage said.
The union’s labor relations proposal would authorize national-level bargaining, expand management’s ability to act without bargaining first and expedite the process for resolving disputes — all of which are contained to some degree in NSPS. However, the proposal would drastically scale back the administration’s attempt to ban collective bargaining over most workplace decisions.
With regard to appeals of personnel actions based on unsatisfactory performance or misconduct, the coalition adheres to the NSPS plan to adopt a single standard of proof and expedited review of appeals. However, the coalition rejected proposals to allow Defense to overrule arbitrators and strip the Merit Systems Protection Board of authority to mitigate penalties imposed by management.
A mandatory meet-and-confer process between Bush administration and union officials ended June 2. Defense officials plan to publish final rules for NSPS this summer and begin rolling out the new system in segments later this year.

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0605/061705nj1.htm


DAILY BRIEFING June 17, 2005


Efforts to combat nuclear terrorism hindered by porous borders
By Siobhan Gorman and Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., National Journal
The Port of Los Angeles -- Twelve thousand times a day, the hulking cranes outside Noel Cunningham's office unload another shipping container. Any one of them could conceal a nuclear weapon -- and Cunningham's first clue, he fears, might be a blinding flash outside his window.
As director of operations and emergency management for the Port of Los Angeles, Cunningham is responsible for securing a facility which, together with the neighboring Port of Long Beach, is the gateway for 44 percent of the goods that come into the United States. A bomb that gets through here is just a drive down the highway from any city in 48 states. "All the other threats, we can deal with," Cunningham says. "But the nuclear threat is probably the one we wouldn't recover from."
Cunningham's security challenge is hardly unique: America's porous borders and winding coastlines are impossible to fortify against bad people determined to get bad things into this country. The security consensus since 9/11 is that government officials should do everything they can to catch terrorists before they can launch an attack, but that they must realize they won't be able to catch all of them. The equation regarding the nuclear threat is different, however: Letting just one nuclear bomb through carries unacceptable costs -- mortal, economic, and psychological. So, this threat demands a response that -- ideally -- leaves nothing to chance.
With that in mind, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Cunningham and his Long Beach counterpart commissioned nuclear-security workups of their ports. The conclusion: Port officials could get the best protection against attacks by persuading officials abroad to tighten security at the foreign ports that feed shipments into Los Angeles and Long Beach. That's the mission that Cunningham and his colleagues began to pursue, at first meeting considerable push-back from the U.S. government. Now, their approach is a national model.
"The good news and the bad news is that Los Angeles is the best in the country," says University of California (Los Angeles) public policy professor Amy Zegart. She gives it a grade of C. A security expert who has studied the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex extensively, Zegart says that while Los Angeles has made more headway than any other jurisdiction, even after "superhuman effort" to coordinate jealously independent agencies, its security system remains full of holes, both technological and political.
The story is similar at the national level. Adm. James Loy, who until recently was the deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, recalled a series of "Deputies Committee" meetings in the White House Situation Room in early 2004 at which federal security officials expressed nagging worries about efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. This was the one threat that required a "zero-tolerance policy," Loy said, and current efforts weren't cutting it.
Within months, Loy would become one of the leading advocates in the federal government for a new office dedicated to bolstering the country's nuclear-detection policy and technology. In Loy's vision, this office would drive a "mini-Manhattan Project" to push for a technological breakthrough that could revolutionize America's ability to detect nuclear material at its borders, inside its borders, and around the world. The proposal for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office made its debut in the president's 2006 budget request.
But headway has been modest, at best. Many critics say the security system currently under development for ports and border crossings has inherent flaws. The chief weakness is that the system depends on newly installed "radiation portal monitors" -- which can't reliably detect the most-likely-to-be used material: highly enriched uranium. Nor can the monitors detect a shielded dirty bomb. And even if the devices could detect every type of nuclear material, as outgoing House Homeland Security Chairman Christopher Cox, R-Calif., points out, the current system assumes "that terrorists will do us a favor by bringing their nuclear material through a radiation portal monitor."
Indeed, it would be all too easy for terrorists to evade the portal monitors altogether by shipping a nuclear weapon -- whole or in parts -- on a yacht or in a truck, or even by carrying it in piece by piece in backpacks, or smuggling it across any number of unprotected sections of the northern and southern borders. Uranium, ironically, is so low in radioactivity that it is safe to handle without gloves, so a bomb's worth could even be broken into hundreds of half-pound chunks and smuggled into the country in people's pockets. One hundred kilograms (220 pounds) of enriched uranium, more than enough for a crude bomb like the one that shattered Hiroshima, would fit into a box 6 inches on a side -- about the size of a 1-gallon water jug. And while the Hiroshima bomb weighed 5 tons, a terrorist bomb designed to be detonated on the ground instead of dropped from an airplane could probably fit into a large SUV.
For decades after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States and the Soviet Union were safely deadlocked in a nuclear stalemate, because each country could count on its radar to detect the missiles coming and allow time for retaliation. In Noel Cunningham's world, there's no such heads-up. But with the right mix of intelligence, new technology, and sensible policy, there could be.
Some security experts say we shouldn't get too exercised over the nuclear threat, because the likelihood that we'll actually face it is low. But Cunningham says while that may be true for the country at large, it's not so for his port, according to the intelligence reports he sees every day. "We don't think the probability is low. We really don't," he says. "We have made that our top priority."
Detection Is Hard to Do
The best way to understand the challenges that Cunningham faces in protecting his port is to see it from on high. Flying over the Los Angeles-Long Beach complex, Cunningham's deputy for homeland security, Lt. Michael Graychik, points out the cruise ship terminal, several shipping terminals, a waste treatment plant, a petroleum processing plant, the Queen Mary, and wrecking yards. "Some of [the yards] don't have fences; they're just there," he says. Graychik then motions to three freeways -- Interstate 405, U.S. Highway 110, and Interstate 710 -- that thread through the port, and a couple of bridges as well. "In some ports, you close the gate and the port's closed. You can't do that here," he says. "There's no gate to close. You can see how porous it is."
Collectively, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach span more than 7,000 acres. Even their own managers don't always know where the ports begin and end. "We use a map with different colors," to sort out what belongs to whom, Graychik explains.
Still, he believes that even if a nuclear weapon arrives at his port undetected, it's not likely to be detonated there. "I envision a nuclear attack occurring in a place like downtown L.A. before it occurs here -- tearing the heart out of the city," he says. The Los Angeles-Long Beach complex is perhaps the ideal conduit for a nuke, however. It marks the beginning of what's known as the Alameda Corridor, which is the main rail route out of the complex to the rest of the country -- and which ends on the eastern side of downtown Los Angeles.
That scenario is what keeps Los Angeles City Council member Jack Weiss up at night. "If a nuclear weapon were smuggled into Los Angeles via the Port of Los Angeles and transported via the Alameda Corridor into downtown L.A.," he says, "I would be shocked if anybody would have any prayer of finding out about that." Weiss represents one of the wealthiest districts in the city, and his constituents rarely, if ever, talk to him about terrorism. But as a former assistant U.S. attorney and Capitol Hill national security aide, he's mounted a personal quest to raise awareness, and money, for terrorism prevention and preparedness. "It's inevitable," he says of a nuclear attack somewhere in the country. "I don't even view it in terms of risk."
But Weiss says he's fighting an uphill battle, because local officials are not elected for their anti-terrorism credentials. "The next attack, if and when it comes, will not galvanize most leaders in most American cities to do more," he contends. "The attitude will continue to be, 'It can't and won't happen here.' " He notes that the Los Angeles Police Department just changed the name of its Counter-Terrorism Bureau to the Critical Incident Management Bureau. "The chief of police believed that if he kept using the word 'terrorism,' it would be hard to keep getting additional resources from the City Council," Weiss says with a mix of exasperation and resignation.
By Sea
Noel Cunningham's terrorism fixation began in 1993, after the first World Trade Center bombing. One of Cunningham's closest friends was Ferdinand (Freddie) Morrone, the chief of police for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who worked at the World Trade Center and was subsequently killed in the 2001 attacks. After the 1993 bombing, as the two learned more about a group of Islamic radicals known as al Qaeda, they began a quiet maritime-security crusade. Their listeners were few and their success limited. Terrorism didn't sell.
Built like a linebacker, Cunningham has a grandfatherly demeanor and an easy laugh. He spent 25 years with the Los Angeles Police Department before moving to the Port of Los Angeles, which has its own police department. After 9/11, he saw his window of opportunity open.
Conversations with officials at the CIA, FBI, and Coast Guard led him to quickly conclude that preventing a nuclear bomb from going off in, or going through, his port had to be his top priority. He persuaded his Long Beach counterparts to go in with him on a $40,000 contract with the Energy Department's Sandia National Laboratories to study the threat; it was the first time these two fiercely competitive ports made a joint investment. Charles Massey, a border and maritime security expert at Sandia, spent five months on the job. "From that study, we determined that our best bet was to try to dedicate all our resources toward the port of origin rather than here," Cunningham said. As Massey succinctly put it, "Once [a nuclear weapon] gets on a ship, you're done."
Since 70 percent of the cargo that enters Los Angeles and Long Beach comes from Hong Kong and Singapore, Cunningham and Massey decided to focus there. They had to persuade not only the foreign ports, but also the U.S. government, to take a more systemic approach. "We finally won, and it was painful," Massey recalls of their efforts to persuade the Transportation Security Administration to let them use grant money for a program that did more than test gadgets.
Selling stepped-up security measures to overseas ports was challenging, too, because adding security measures costs money. The fact that the U.S. government didn't appear to be backing the security efforts didn't help Cunningham and Massey with their sales job. Cunningham tapped his business contacts in Singapore and persuaded the mayor of Los Angeles to join him on a trip to try to seal the deal. It worked, and Hong Kong -- not to be shown up by its maritime archrival -- followed.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security was trying to forge a separate relationship with ports to implement two container-security programs, one that places Customs officers overseas to monitor containers as they are being loaded, and a second to give a kind of Good Housekeeping seal to companies whose supply chain is demonstrably secure. The Container Security Initiative has now put Customs officers in 36 foreign ports, and the certification program counts 5,052 corporate members -- although the Government Accountability Office has noted holes in both programs' vetting processes.
The Energy Department runs parallel port-security initiatives of its own. Energy's "Second Line of Defense" program has trained 1,400 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, as well as some foreign customs agents, at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, putting them through three-to-five-day crash courses complete with simulated seizures and practice samples of real uranium. And in 2003, an offshoot program called "Megaports" began installing radiation detectors to screen cargo containers at the largest foreign ports.
Back in the States, Homeland Security expects to have 90 radiation portal monitors operational at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex by the end of the year, making it possible to scan every container arriving from abroad. And the Los Angeles port is trying to piece together federal money to set up security cameras and other monitoring systems.
It's been slow going, says George Cummings, the Los Angeles port's homeland-security director. He sent the Homeland Security Department a sequenced, prioritized five-year plan (developed with his Long Beach counterpart), but DHS took a Chinese-menu approach, picking and choosing which parts to fund. The department will pay for worker security cards with snazzy biometrics, for example, but not for machines to read the cards.
The biggest on-the-ground bugaboo is what's known as secondary inspection. Right now, when a container that raises suspicion needs to be unloaded, it's driven eight miles to the Customs inspection facility in Carson, Calif. Cunningham has been lobbying for a new state-of-the-art inspection facility within the port, and planning for a $60 million facility is getting under way now, even though the proposal has caused much controversy in the surrounding community.
Los Angeles has also made some headway from an organizational standpoint, in resolving the "who's-in-charge" question. Coast Guard Capt. Peter Neffenger established the Area Maritime Security Committee, whose 14-member executive committee includes a representative of each major stakeholder in the port, from the FBI to the local fire chief. Depending on the scenario, Neffenger can quickly delegate responsibility to the FBI, or the fire chief, or the local police.
Neffenger, who holds a master's degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, also likes to war-game terrorist scenarios as a way to think through anti-terrorism strategies, and to tap some Hollywood creativity, he recently invited five screenwriters and producers to join in. Through his war-gaming, he's concluded that terrorists might choose to use a vehicle other than a container, because they would want to be able to stay close to their nuclear weapon. Moreover, forgery of the shipping documents would require a network of collaborators. The more people involved, the more likely someone will get caught.
Thousands of fishing boats, yachts, and other small craft go in and out of ports routinely, without inspection, noted Matthew Bunn, a senior research associate in the Project on Managing the Atom at the Kennedy School. "Lord knows what's on them."
So for all of their work, the best Cunningham and Neffenger can probably hope for is to force a determined terrorist to go somewhere else, say to Seattle or across a land border. "That's the whole idea," Cunningham says with a hearty laugh. He's only half-kidding.
By Land
Three thousand trucks roll through the Otay Mesa border crossing in Southern California each day. Border officials opened this entryway in 1985 to redirect cargo away from the country's busiest border crossing, which lies just 15 miles to the west. In October, the Otay Mesa crossing got its batch of radiation portal monitors, which look like enormous stereo speakers with bright-yellow borders. As trucks exit the tollbooth-like border checkpoints, they drive through the monitors at regular speed. The monitors beep when they detect radiation. This happens about 15 times a day.
The person in charge of this and all the other border crossings on California's southern border is Adele Fasano, a veteran of the U.S. Customs Service, now known as Customs and Border Protection, within the Homeland Security Department. Every truck goes through these monitors, and half of the trucks are randomly selected to go through a second monitor that zaps the truck's load with gamma rays to take an X-ray-like picture of the density of what's inside.
The main thing these monitors have brought Fasano is peace of mind. "Now I know when a truck comes through, it's being screened," she says. "We'll move on to other [threat] areas." Asked to name the greatest threat to her many border crossings, she quickly replies, "Narcotics." But security expert Stephen Flynn of the Council on Foreign Relations, a former Coast Guard commander, says that Fasano's confidence is unwarranted because the radiation monitors and the gamma-ray density-detection machines "don't talk to each other at all." So a truck full of lightly shielded highly enriched uranium can clear the radiation portal monitor and face just a 50 percent chance of being sent to the gamma-ray machine, which might detect the shielding but not the radiation.
Still, terrorists might consider a 50 percent chance of getting caught too risky if they can cross the border at some other spot that has no detection equipment at all. Harvard's Bunn frets about hikers carrying pieces of a nuclear weapon across the woodland border between Canada and the United States. The Homeland Security Department, in its classified National Planning Scenarios, conjures up a situation in which "different groups of illegal immigrants" smuggle in materials and parts for a bomb. Or they might drive a fully assembled bomb across the border in a rental truck or a large SUV.
It's actually pretty easy to cross the border undetected, says T.J. Bonner, president of the Border Patrol officers union. There are plenty of small, unmonitored roads, especially along the northern border. "Drive-throughs are still an easy way to move material that happens to be heavy," he says. And as for people and vehicles that the Border Patrol does encounter on these roads, he says, "we just don't screen people to see if they're carrying any nuclear materials with them, nor do we screen vehicles we happen to catch that drive between the ports of entry." Smugglers have gotten contraband across the border undetected through tunnels, in planes, even hidden inside a tank full of propane. The possibilities are "only limited by your imagination," Bonner says.
Inside the Borders
Once a hypothetical nuclear weapon is loose in the U.S., the challenge of finding it becomes tactically, and bureaucratically, much more complex. By law, Homeland Security has a leading role, but DHS has almost no assets for searching for a weapon of mass destruction. As the "lead federal agency" for counter-terrorism within the United States, the FBI has the authority and the agents to head the hunt, but to get highly technical expertise, the FBI relies on the agencies that actually handle America's own nuclear bombs: the military and the Department of Energy.
The government got its first wake-up call in 1974, when a blackmailer demanding $200,000 claimed to have a nuclear bomb in Boston. The confused scramble to send qualified specialists to check out the threat -- and the humiliation of being hoaxed -- led to the creation of a special Energy Department program known as NEST. Over three decades, even the name (if not the acronym) has changed, from "Nuclear Emergency Search Team," to the less dramatic "Nuclear Emergency Support Team." But the essence of NEST remains the same: DOE scientists, engineers, and support personnel who work full-time on designing, testing, and maintaining nuclear bombs, or on managing civilian nuclear materials, volunteer to be cross-trained and to be on call to leave their lab jobs at a moment's notice and deploy to a threatened city. Since 9/11, they have been called out again and again.
If you haven't noticed all of this NEST activity -- and the teams have been called to Washington, as well as to Manhattan and Los Angeles -- that's because you're not supposed to. NEST searchers wear civilian clothes and use detection gear concealed in backpacks and briefcases. And while the original NEST approach was to swarm the target city with hundreds of personnel, as early as the mid-1990s the program began reorganizing into an array of smaller, more streamlined, and less conspicuous teams.
The first response is often a squad of seven people from the nearest Energy lab, mobilized under the Radiological Assistance Program. Founded in the 1950s, RAP historically assisted industry and local government with minor problems, such as an cancer therapy source that had been improperly tossed into a Dumpster. But since such accidents could actually be early evidence of terrorists' building or smuggling a bomb, the RAP volunteers were trained and equipped, even before 9/11, to look for signs of weapons.
Still, most RAP members are not weapons experts, and some NEST veterans fear that they'll miss key clues. Energy officials argue, however, that the small search teams in the field are linked electronically with weapons laboratories like Los Alamos, where a larger "home team" of scientists specialized in nuclear weapons design can use their supercomputers and lab facilities to analyze the searchers' radiation readings. These elite weapons laboratories would also assess any radiation warnings from law enforcement and intelligence officials. To weed out hoaxes like the one in Boston, experts are trained to analyze each threat not only for technical plausibility but also for linguistic clues, such as whether the suspect is making references to the Koran, or to Tom Clancy thrillers.
In the event that an intelligence tip or a RAP investigation revealed a serious threat, Energy would dispatch a specialized counter-terrorist Search Response Team, either from Nellis Air Force Base (just down the road from Energy's Nevada Test Site) or from Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington. DOE has its own small fleet of aircraft, but they are frequently undergoing maintenance or carrying VIPs, according to a critical 2003 report by the department's own inspector general. NEST veterans talk of hitching rides on military planes or even commercial airlines to get to where they were needed.
The first-wave Search Response Team would consist (like a RAP team) of just seven Energy employees, linked to a home team at the labs. On arrival, the search team would expand by handing out detection equipment to a dozen or two local police officers. Just how user-friendly modern detection gear is, and how well the hastily trained novices are able to use it, is bitterly debated. (See sidebar, p. 1749.) In theory, cops can quickly learn to read a simple detector and call in the scientists to deal with anything suspicious -- and they know their city's streets as no scientist ever could. If time permits and the danger demands, more Energy technicians can flow in to reinforce the team. NEST even has planes and helicopters that can scan from the air, though such long-range methods are better suited for mapping nuclear fallout than for pinpointing an unexploded bomb.
If a bomb is found, Energy steps back into an advisory role. Seizing the weapon, and neutralizing any terrorists still around (to guard, transport, or put together the weapon), is up to the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team or to a military Joint Special Operations Command force code-named "Lincoln Gold." And it would probably be a Special Operations bomb squad that would disarm the device. (The FBI's explosives experts do not routinely handle nukes, as the military does.) Then, a larger Joint Technical Operations Team of military explosives-handlers, augmented by Energy weapons engineers, would move in to take the bomb apart.
These final steps have never been taken for real -- as far as we know. But the search process has been launched repeatedly since 9/11, especially during the fall of 2001, when ominous reports from a CIA source code-named "Dragonfire" convinced administration officials that al Qaeda had a bomb. "Our activity level certainly went up in the year and a half after 9/11, [and] from December '03 to late spring '04," says Joseph Krol, the retired Navy admiral who runs the emergency-response program at Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. "We were really up against it."
In the jittery new world, anomalous radiation readings could prompt panic. In several cases, said one NEST veteran, officials in D.C. went to high alert over false alarms that field teams could have easily resolved, "but they wouldn't listen to the field." And adding a Homeland Security Department only compounded the confusion of "multiple agencies trying to report straight to the president."
The law creating DHS gave it authority to call out the Energy experts in a crisis, but no authority over the day-to-day management of the teams themselves -- after all, their members work full-time at Energy labs. Former DHS officials say the newborn department, struggling to resolve its role, left the pre-9/11 system mostly intact. "The way we've worked it out," says Energy's Krol, "we are allowed to respond to anybody, and we let DHS know within 15 minutes via phone call. They certainly retain the right to say no, but the lead agency in most cases would be the FBI."
The biggest change of late has been to back off the hair-trigger responsiveness for NEST deployments. "A year and a half ago, it was automatic -- we'd just deploy. [But] we've had a better dialogue with the FBI and the intelligence community," says Krol, "and in some cases, the answer has come to be 'No, we don't have enough corroborated information to do a deployment.' " Without detailed intelligence to narrow down the search, the cold fact is that no number of experts can find a bomb in time. Today's technology can detect bombs from tens of yards away, not from miles away. "Our teams have a reasonably good chance if we were searching a large building or a city block," says one former Energy official. "If you told me a city, and didn't give me more clues than that, I wouldn't feel confident about our chances."
The Way Ahead?
No one wants to wait to start searching until after an A-bomb is inside an American city. No one can build a Great Wall of China that will stop every nuclear smuggler at the U.S. border, either. The most promising defense is not one rigid barrier, not one supersensor, but a network of intelligence -- both high-tech and human -- to spot suspicious anomalies while they are as far away from America as possible. Across the ocean in the port of Hong Kong, a pilot project is under way to scan every cargo container for nuclear material.
Stephen Flynn, whose previous advocacy effort evolved into the Container Security Initiative, persuaded Hong Kong to experimentally run every container through both radiation and gamma-ray density sensors, and then to take a picture of the container's identification numbers to match against databases for additional screening -- all while the container is moving along at about 9 miles an hour. All of these data build up a complete electronic picture of what a normal supply chain looks like, and may show how to flag aberrant containers without relying on inspectors to look at every image. The more information the system has about what is normal, the fewer false alarms it will produce.
Deploying such a system at every port in the world, Flynn estimates, would cost just $1.5 billion. But the Hong Kong project is in jeopardy because it lacks the blessing of the U.S. government, and without that, the port of Hong Kong can't justify spending $6.50 per container for the scan. Until recently, DHS has argued that only 3 to 4 percent of containers are sufficiently "high risk" to warrant scanning, not 100 percent, as in Flynn's model. However, the department announced recently that it eventually plans to run all international cargo and vehicles through radiation portal monitors, but not always in conjunction with density sensors that could detect shielded material.
Local innovation is brewing in Los Angeles as well. At the Terrorism Early Warning Group, which is run by the Los Angeles Country Sheriff's Department, Lt. John Sullivan has developed a model for relatively inexpensive sensors that could be networked around the city to spot nuclear material. Sullivan is the father of the Terrorism Early Warning Group, which is widely considered to be the most sophisticated local effort in the country to anticipate threats. Way back in 1998, he thought the city could usefully deploy a range of different, complementary sensors -- radiation, motion, photographic, weight -- that, if networked together properly, could detect and track a vehicle carrying nuclear material. (Additional sensors might also track biological and chemical agents.) Sullivan even mapped out where the sensors could go. The plan has sat for seven years in a white binder above his desk.
"You can't wire the whole country," Sullivan says. But -- like Flynn's pilot project in Hong Kong -- even a basic sensor system could give local officials a detailed baseline of what's normal, against which to gauge threats.
Any detection system, no matter how technologically advanced, is only as powerful as the information people use in deciding where and how to deploy it. "Weapon No. 1 is good intelligence," says Rep. Jane Harman of California, who is the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and whose district surrounds the port complex. "And we're not good at [nuclear] intelligence."
After all, the closest the United States came to catching 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta was when the police in Florida pulled him over for speeding -- and let him go. "The first discoverer of a threat may not be an intelligence agency; it may be a federal, state, or local law enforcement officer," says John Cohen, a former California detective and House Judiciary Committee staffer who now advises local governments. "Most police officers don't run across a bank robbery every day, but almost every police officer is trained to recognize one," Cohen said. Those hundreds of thousands of officers nationwide, he suggests, could be trained to watch for terrorists as well.
Harman goes further, saying, "One anti-terrorism strategy is a well-prepared public" -- if, she adds, officials can avoid the "crying-wolf syndrome" that has afflicted so many public alerts. If the government has real details on a specific threat, such as the description of the truck hauling the bomb or of the terrorist driving it, publishing that information could mobilize millions of citizens for the search. On the other hand, it could create a nationwide, nuclear-powered version of the D.C. area's 2002 hunt for sniper John Allen Muhammad's (nonexistent) white van. And once terrorists know that everyone is looking for them, they might simply decide to set their bomb off immediately in the nearest city rather than risk capture trying to reach their primary target; thus the search would save Washington, at the expense of, say, San Antonio.
Can a nuclear-bomb-hunting group small enough to keep a secret conduct a successful search? When, and what, do you tell the public? "Ten years ago, we were asking that question" in war games, says one former counter-terrorism official. "I don't think we have a good answer."

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2005/06/unions-fighting-pentagons-new-personnel-policy-proposals/index.php

Unions Fighting Pentagon's New Personnel Policy Proposals
Posted 20-Jun-2005 02:40
Related stories: Policy - Personnel
Also on this day: 20-Jun-2005 »
Representatives from a coalition of Defense unions delivered a letter of protest and a list of recommendations for the new National Security Personnel System to Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England during an hourlong meeting Thursday morning. The letter was signed by Byron Charlton of the United DoD Workers Coalition. American Federation of Government Employee officials said they plan legal action to block the new system as soon as the final regulations are sent to Congress.
Pentagon officials recently concluded the final regulations for the NSPS, after concluding more than a month of "meet and confer" sessions with union representatives.
In 2003, Congress allowed Pentagon to reshape its civilian personnel system. In January of this year, Defense personnel officials proposed the removal of the General Schedule system, the implementation of a performance pay framework, a streamlined appeals process, market-based compensation, and a reduction in collective bargaining.
The unions argued, however, that performance pay should be a smaller part of overall pay and that civilian pay at Defense should be increased comparable with military pay. Its recommendation paper was partially titled "Labor's Proposals For Positive Change Versus Management's Unlawful Return to the 19th Century"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/14/AR2005061401346.html

http://www.startribune.com/stories/1519/5463190.html

Anne Applebaum: Post-9/11 airport security changes are placebos
Anne Applebaum
Washington Post
Published June 20, 2005
If you happen to be reading this while standing in one of those disturbingly slow, zigzag lines at airport security -- looking repeatedly at your watch, wondering if you will miss the plane -- here's something to make you feel worse: Almost none of the agony you are experiencing is making you safer, at least not to any statistically significant or economically rational degree. Certainly any logical analysis of the money that has been spent on the airport security system since Sept. 11, 2001, and the security that the system has created, must lead to that conclusion.
This is not to say that the uniformed screeners aren't more professional than they were in the past or that their presence doesn't create a degree of psychological comfort, both for government officials, who can claim to be doing something to keep us all safer, as well as for those passengers who continue to believe that engaging in ritualistic shoe-removal gives them mysterious, magical protection against terrorism. On the grand scale of things, though, that's all it is: magical protection.
In fact, outside inspectors have found, over and over again, that federal screeners perform no better than the private screeners they replaced. Since they inspect only passengers and baggage, not the airport and its perimeter, they haven't eliminated the need for other forms of law enforcement either. And even when they are doing their rather narrow job correctly, their impact is dubious.
By their own account, federal screeners have intercepted "7 million prohibited items." But of that number, only 600 were firearms. So, according to the calculations of economist Veronique de Rugy, 99.9 percent of intercepted items were nail scissors, cigarette lighters, penknives and the like.
Yet this mass ceremonial sacrifice of toenail clippers on the altar of security comes at an extraordinarily high price. The annual budget of the federal Transportation Security Administration hovers around $5.5 billion -- just about the same price as the entire FBI -- a figure that doesn't include the cost of wasted time.
De Rugy reckons that if 624 million passengers each spend two hours every year waiting in line, the annual loss to the economy comes to $32 billion. There has also been a price to pay in waste, since when that much money is rubbed into a problem with that kind of speed -- remember, the TSA had only 13 employees in January 2002 -- a lot of it gets misspent.
In the case of the TSA, that waste includes $350,000 for a gym, $500,000 for artwork and silk plants at the agency's new operations center, and $461,000 for its first-birthday party. More to the point, the agency has spent millions, even billions, on technology that is inappropriate or outdated.
In fact, better security didn't have to cost that much. Probably the most significant measure taken in the past four years was one funded not by the government but by the airline industry, which put bulletproof doors on its cockpits at the relatively low price of $300 million to $500 million over 10 years.
In extremely blunt terms, that means that while it may still be possible to blow up a plane (and murder 150 people), it is now virtually impossible to fly a plane into an office building (and murder thousands).
By even the crudest cost-benefit risk analysis, bulletproof cockpit doors, which nobody notices, have the potential to save far more lives, at a far lower cost per life, than the screeners who open your child's backpack and your grandmother's purse while you stand around in your socks waiting for them to finish.
But, then, this isn't a country that has ever been good at risk analysis. If it were, we would never have invented the TSA at all. Instead, we would have taken that $5.5 billion, doubled the FBI's budget, and set up a questioning system that identifies potentially suspicious passengers, as the Israelis do.
Even now, it's not too late to abolish the TSA, create a federal training program for airport screeners, and then let private companies worry about how many people to hire, which technology to buy and how long the tables in front of the X-ray machines should be. But every time that suggestion is made in Congress, someone denounces the plan as a "privatization" of our security and a sellout.
Which is why I conclude that we don't actually want value for money. No, we want every passenger to have the chance to have their nail scissors or pen knife confiscated by a uniformed official before boarding an airplane.
Magic, it seems, are what make Americans feel really safe.

http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0605/061705c1.htm

TSA steps up technology investments, deployments
By Chris Strohm
cstrohm@govexec.com
After several reports that airport screeners continue to miss threatening objects, the Transportation Security Administration recently announced almost $100 million in new spending on technology to improve the screening of passengers and checked baggage.
Within the past two months, TSA announced the purchase and deployment of new technology for airports throughout the country. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the House Government Reform Committee earlier this month that the agency may have done as much as it can to improve the performance of screeners without deploying new technology.
On June 15, TSA announced that it will roll out 44 new passenger screening portals. The doorways emit a puff of air as passengers walk through and then scan that air for traces of explosives. The agency will buy 25 machines from Smiths Detection of Pine Brook, N.J., for $3.6 million, and 19 from General Electric of Wilmington, Mass., for $3.2 million. All equipment must be delivered by September.
TSA plans to install 100 additional machines at the nation's largest airports by January 2006.
In May, TSA announced that it would spend about $80 million on new in-line explosive- detection systems, which are put behind ticket counters to screen checked baggage. The agency will purchase 43 machines from General Electric for $51.6 million, and 32 from L-3 Communications of Woburn, Mass., for $28.1 million.
TSA spokeswoman Deirdre O'Sullivan said the agency had previously made agreements with airports to install the in-line systems.
Chertoff also said intelligence continues to show that terrorists still regard airplanes as a significant target. "You know, the economy of this country is so dependent on air transportation that we have to be careful to preserve that system and its integrity and public confidence in the system," he said.
Rep. William Clay, D-Mo., noted a recent report from the DHS inspector general showing that undercover agents were able to smuggle weapons past screeners at multiple airports, including those used by the Sept. 11 hijackers.
"Why are airport screeners continuing to demonstrate poor performance? And, bluntly put, are our airports and airplanes still vulnerable?" Clay asked.
Chertoff said the government needs to make decisions about which technology to pursue.
"Some of these issues are financial issues. Some of them, frankly, are making a decision to go forward," he said. "Some people don't like some of the technologies. I think we have to make a decision if we're going to keep our airports secure, that we're going to have to deploy these technologies; we're going to have to take appropriate steps to preserve privacy."
"In order to move to the next level of detection," he added, "we have to start to make sure of the one thing we have that the terrorists don't have, which is our ingenuity in getting technology out into the real world."


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