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New legislation aims to improve DHS, private sector engagement

Last week, U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL), a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, introduced H.R. 5712, the “DHS Private Sector Office Engagement Act,” aimed at improving private sector engagement in protecting the homeland. U.S. Rep. Michael McFaul (R-TX), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, joined in co-sponsoring the bill.

“Homeland Security promotes economic security and vice versa. With more than 85 percent of critical infrastructure owned by the private sector, DHS needs a robust mechanism to understand the needs of the private sector,” said Rep. Clawson. “H.R. 5712 is important legislation that will clearly focus the department on activities that will have a measurable impact on our security and our economy. Having come to the Congress as a former CEO, this is the kind of partnership our marketplace needs to help our economy grow."

“Over the last several years, the quality, quantity and strategic engagement from DHS’s Private Sector Office has significantly decreased,” added Chairman McCaul. “While the Department has recently taken to steps to improve private sector input, such as assigning private sector loan executives to [the Transportation Security Administration] and [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] to promote travel and tourism, more can and should be done. H.R. 5712 will streamline functions of the office and establishes accountability mechanisms to make sure the office is effective.”

The bill would make changes including:

  • Requiring DHS to analyze and report on the economic impact of changes in homeland security policy including all new regulations;
  • Directing the department to determine what actions are needed to reduce associated burdens on the private sector including unnecessary barriers to private sector job creation;
  • Authorizing the Private Sector Office for four years with the streamlined functions of economic impact analysis and business liaison responsibilities;
  • Authorizing the Loaned Executive Program to provide top executive-level and subject matter experts from the private sector an opportunity to share their expertise with DHS;
  • Requiring the department to coordinate private sector efforts, with respect to functions of the department and throughout all department components, to identify private sector resources and capabilities that could be effective in augmenting Federal, State, and local government agency efforts to prevent or respond to an incident;
  • Requiring DHS to promote existing public-private partnerships and develop new public-private partnerships to address homeland security challenges;
  • Putting accountability mechanisms in place such as a strategic plan with objective outcome-based performance metrics to be validated by the GAO; and
  • Preventing the Private Sector Office from duplicating procurement liaison functions.

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