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06-17-2003

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From 2003: Romney's testimony Before the SELECT COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES on on behalf of The National Governors’ Association

Date: 06-17-2003

Title: “First Responders: How States, Localities and the Federal Government Can Strengthen Their Partnership to Make America Safer”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY, COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

 

 

Mr. Chairman:

 

I appreciate this opportunity to testify before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and thank you and Ranking Member Turner for seeking the input of Governors in your oversight of this most crucial issue.

 

I would also like to express my gratitude to Secretary Tom Ridge of the Department of Homeland Security, who has worked tirelessly to assist my colleagues and myself in meeting the challenges of governing in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. It is miraculous to see the Homeland Security apparatus that has sprung up under Secretary Ridge’s leadership in the short time since he answered President Bush’s call to service. As a former Governor, he is keenly aware of the difficulties we face balancing fiscal pressures with our overriding commitment to the public safety. As a former Congressman, he understands the responsibility this body has to demand results for the taxpayer’s money. This combination makes Secretary Ridge the right man for a very difficult job. We are all grateful for his vision and leadership and salute the Secretary, and the dedicated men and women who serve in the Department, for their success in preventing subsequent terrorist incidents.

 

With everything that has happened since September 11, it is sometimes easy to forget that we are still in the early stages of defining the Homeland Security mission. Much remains to be done in both the public and private sectors. Therefore, it is appropriate that Congress assess the lessons learned to date, ensure that there is consensus at every level of government on both the degree of progress made and the most critical next steps, and establish a framework for future actions and funding. I commend you and the members of this Committee for the commitment you have made to this task

 

Similarly, I want to express my appreciation for the steps that Congress and the Bush Administration have taken, just since my visit earlier this year to testify on this subject before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, to make our citizens safer and our nation stronger.

 

In Massachusetts, and throughout the nation, we have overseen the distribution of nearly $10B in federal Homeland Security-related funds for federal fiscal year. Your decision to funnel the vast majority of that money through state government has helped to ensure that we avoid duplication, maximize efficiency, prevent gaps in first responder coverage and address the most significant threats and vulnerabilities that we face statewide. As you know, each state, even each Congressional district, has unique needs and capabilities that would make direct appropriations to cities and towns an extremely cumbersome process. Moreover, Governors believe that attempting to do so would be detrimental to our ongoing, coordinated efforts to secure the homeland.

 

In return for the trust you have placed in us to distribute federal funds appropriately, Governors have taken great pains to ensure that the requirements placed on states by Congress have been met. While the 45-day window for passing the most recent round of federal funding through to local authorities has not expired for all states, all evidence indicates that those for whom it has expired have exceeded the minimum 80% pass-through and done so within the time allotted. This while facing logistical hurdles ranging from procurement restrictions to establishing a means for the electronic submission of grant proposals.

 

In spite of these challenges, states have been remarkably innovative in their grant-making efforts, with an eye towards creating the most coordinated, interoperable Homeland Security network possible. Several, including Massachusetts, have brought together the various branches of the public safety community, as well as neighboring municipalities, for the first time in memory to gather a truly comprehensive picture of Homeland Security needs and to address them in a holistic, coordinated fashion. And the cooperation has not stopped at the border. In my region, the Northeast Regional Homeland Security Agreement will unify planning and sharing of resources across 10 states, while strengthening the information sharing process and creating an inventory of resources and assets available to be shared across borders. There are similar examples throughout the country.

 

Recently, Governor Ruth Ann Minner of Delaware and I were asked by the National Governors Association to serve as “co-lead Governors” on Homeland Security issues. In this role, we will work with our nation’s Governors to develop recommendations and consensus positions on a number of the key issues under discussion in this arena. Our goal is to provide a single point of contact for the Congress. As a first step, we have conducted a survey of our fellow Governors to determine their priorities. Three issues stood out as overwhelmingly important to Governors, and they will serve as the centerpiece of my testimony today. These are:

• Investing resources based on comprehensive and integrated statewide plans

• Maximizing the investment in intelligence gathering and analysis

• Working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop guidelines for states to follow in the prevention of and response to terrorist attacks

 

First, we believe it is critical that Homeland Security funding and resources be applied against comprehensive and integrated statewide plans. Frankly, this is the only way that our nation’s citizens can be assured that we are getting the maximum impact from the billions of dollars we are investing annually in Homeland Security. You have all heard the anecdotes that are beginning to circulate – of communities side-by-side that purchase incompatible radio equipment and cannot talk with each other when responding to multi-jurisdictional emergencies. Or of the rural community that I understand requested Homeland Security funds for a new fire truck, despite the fact that they had neither roads on which to operate it nor a building in which to house it. Unfortunately, if we who are responsible for overseeing the expenditure of Homeland Security funding are not careful, those stories will become legend. The reality is that almost every state and community in this country is in fiscal crisis this year yet, like the federal government, we are all choosing to provide the necessary funding and resources for Homeland Security. But, recognizing how tight dollars are, I believe you will find that all Governors and municipal officials are eager to ensure that we get at least a dollar’s return in additional security for every dollar we spend. And the most critical step to maximizing our resources is developing integrated statewide plans and channeling virtually all Homeland Security funding through these plans.

 

The National Strategy for Homeland Security, signed by President Bush on July 16, 2002

articulates a comprehensive vision for the common defense of the nation. The nation’s Governors are very supportive of the strategy because they recognize that to effectively combat terrorism in this country requires a fully collaborative partnership between federal, state and local governments. However, for these plans to truly be effective, they must not simply be a compilation of individual plans as a package. We need to bring all jurisdictions together to develop an integrated plan for public safety – one that maximizes the resources on hand and provides a detailed framework for training, operations and equipment.

 

As most of you know, I was the CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games, which has been described by many as a model for an integrated, comprehensive public safety plan. Although there are aspects of that planning process that would be hard to duplicate in all fifty states, it nevertheless provides a strong example of the difference between a coordinated plan and an integrated plan.

 

Interestingly, the decision for Salt Lake to pursue a fully integrated federal, state, local and private sector security plan for the Games was a result of the security planning process for the Atlanta Olympics. The Atlanta planning process followed what was until then a traditional format. Each of the affected jurisdictions – federal, state and local – developed individual plans for the activities within their jurisdiction – law enforcement, fire, and emergency response. Then those plans were meshed into a single whole. Unfortunately, when the plans were pulled together, they didn’t mesh well. Several areas had more resources than needed, others were significantly under-funded. Some areas were deemed the responsibility of more than one entity, while other areas were deemed to be no one’s responsibility and had been completely left out. Although there was a security plan, in reality it was a hodge-podge of individual plans and there were clearly holes.

 

The federal government stepped in to assist in filling these holes and to help merge the plans and operations of the individual jurisdictions. But, the lessons learned from this experience were relayed in detail to the Salt Lake team and we decided to try something new. Federal, state and local governments, together with the private sector Olympic Committee, all agreed to come together and jointly develop one plan and use the planning process to work out jurisdictional issues, assess resources available, and agree on a plan that would use the minimum in additional resources to achieve the maximum in security.

 

And that’s what we did. Over a period of several years, an integrated plan was developed that identified all the activities to be done and determined the resources necessary to carry out those activities. In many cases it was the federal government that provided guidance on the standards we were to use – much as we look to the Department of Homeland Security today to provide guidance to states on best practices and standards for securing critical infrastructure.

 

Then, perhaps most uniquely, the participants identified all the resources each had to put towards carrying out the missions. Federal, state, and local government all participated in this, as did the private sector. Air and ground resources were pooled, communications resources were pooled, IT and dispatch resources were pooled, and manpower was pooled. And when we had thus maximized the use of our existing resources, we were able to clearly articulate to the federal government where we were short in resources and exactly what we needed those resources to do. Moreover, those resource shortfalls were part of an integrated security plan that the federal government – specifically the Secret Service, FBI and FEMA – had helped to develop.

 

During the months that the Olympic Security Plan was operational, this integrated planning effort led to an integrated and well-coordinated training program. It also led to more efficient procurement of resources since we were able to use bulk purchasing to the maximum extent possible. And, as you could predict, it then led to a well-integrated operational effort during the Games. Federal, state and local public safety operations merged seamlessly and cooperated closely with the private operations that we were running at SLOC. Not only was this approach operationally superior, but in the world of public safety and counter-terrorism where the enemy can exploit any gap, the tight-knit coordination and integration among all security and public safety operations was essential.

 

In my role as Governor of Massachusetts, I have sought to apply the lessons learned during the Olympic Games to the implementation of our statewide Homeland Security program. We have begun the process of developing an integrated plan by starting with a “bottoms up” assessment of our state of preparedness and an inventory of our resources. My Secretary of Public Safety, Ed Flynn, has led this effort and it has been conducted across federal, state, and local governments and the private sector. While the assessment has identified a number of positive actions taken to date, it has also identified a number of deficiencies, which must be addressed across our Commonwealth.

 

Massachusetts established a model process for awarding federal Homeland Security dollars. We were the first state to apply for this money, the first to receive it, and the first to deliver it to municipalities. We combined the FFY03 and FFY03 Supplemental funding into one grant process. This allowed us to award $21.5 million nearly a month before the 45-day deadline. And we established a competitive grant process, encouraging communities to work across jurisdictions and across disciplines to put together comprehensive plans for Homeland Security.

 

Rather than award money based solely on population or location, Massachusetts evaluated applicants on four criteria:

1. Degree of Threat

o Population

o Critical infrastructure

2. Degree of Readiness

o Emergency management plan

o Training

3. Degree of Cooperation

o Mutual aid agreement(s)

o Training across jurisdictions

4. Reasonableness of Request

o Grant request must complement existing equipment

o Equipment must not be duplicative

 

Every proposal was evaluated and scored by three readers. Massachusetts called on grant readers from throughout the region with various areas of expertise to score the proposals and, at our request, a federal Department of Homeland Security representative participated in the review process, answering technical questions.

 

One of the most encouraging ramifications of this experience in Massachusetts has been the way in which a statewide process that required coordination and communication of its disparate public safety community has brought this community together. With the “carrot” of federal Homeland Security dollars, states can make this type of interagency, multi-jurisdictional cooperation the rule, rather than the exception.

 

I share this experience to show you how seriously my fellow Governors and I take the charge you have given us to spend Homeland Security funds in the most efficacious way possible. Each of my colleagues recognizes that working with local governments and the federal government in the development of a comprehensive statewide plan is a matter of the utmost importance to the people of their state. And it is through those plans that we can ensure that Homeland Security funding is spent only for activities that will have the maximum impact, resulting in the highest level of public safety.

 

Second, we need to maximize our nation’s investment in information and intelligence sharing. One of the primary ways that state and local governments can work to prevent future acts of terrorism is to ensure the effective flow of information among federal, state and local law enforcement. In the months that preceded the attacks of 9/11, agencies were unable to draw a larger pattern out of disparate bits of information contained in separate databases about the activities of terrorists involved in the attack. We will never know whether better data sharing would have helped thwart the attacks. But we do know that terrorists often use traditional crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering, bank robbery and illegal weapons trafficking to offset the costs and further support their political/terrorist objectives.

 

In fact, the first indication that a terrorist cell is operating within the United States may be behavior discovered during an investigation by state or local police, following the report of suspicious circumstances or some type of criminal event. Whether the focus in on stopping drug trafficking or preventing an act of terrorism, rapidly collecting and disseminating solid information about the people who commit crimes and where they commit them is key.

 

Yet most police, public health entities, parole officers and courts are operating with 20-year old technology. Even though high-speed digital technology is currently available, many police officers still wait long periods to receive basic information about a vehicle or person they stop. Days or weeks may pass before criminal warrants find their way into state databases, leaving dangerous criminals on the street and police without this information. Judges might sentence offenders with outdated information regarding their criminal history records. Investigators in one jurisdiction may be unaware that information regarding an individual under investigation exists in a neighboring jurisdiction.

 

This must change if we are to be successful in preventing future acts of terrorism.

 

Another challenge we face in information sharing is ensuring that there is an appropriate exchange of information between the federal government and the state and local officials who may be able to use that information. We recognize that there is information critical to the nation’s security that must be guarded at the highest levels. Yet, as mentioned above, it is often state and local officials and responders who can facilitate the apprehension of potential terrorists if they have the necessary information.

 

Additionally, state and local officials need information if they are to match their response to an increased threat level appropriately to the increased risk. For example, if our nation moves to Threat Level Orange in response to increased risks, then state and local officials need to know if that increased risk is contained to only one region of the country or one type of critical infrastructure. With that information, they can develop an appropriate response. Without it, they have no choice but to take actions that assume that the highest level of threat may be aimed at their region and at the various types of critical infrastructure in their state. The point here is that every community cannot be equally vulnerable at the same time to terrorism. If information is available, the sharing of that information will ensure that money and resources are not wasted in a region of the country that does not have an increased threat.

 

One way to address the intelligence-sharing dilemma is for security clearances to be standardized and reciprocal between agencies and levels of government—perhaps within the Department of Homeland Security. There is also a need to process federal security clearances more expeditiously. Some states have waited over a year for vital security clearances for their law enforcement agents. The bottom line is that a more effective liaison must be established between the FBI, CIA, DHS and other national security agencies if we are to maximize our nation’s investment in intelligence.

The third challenge is to work with the Department of Homeland Security and other relevant federal agencies to establish minimum guidelines and standards for state Homeland Security practices. In its recent report on the state of emergency responder preparedness, the Council on Foreign Relations suggested that Congress,

“require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work with state and local agencies and officials as well as emergency responder professional associations to establish clearly defined standards and guidelines for emergency preparedness. These standards must be sufficiently flexible to allow local officials to set priorities based on their needs, provided that they reach nationally determined preparedness levels within a fixed time period.”

 

I strongly support this recommendation. In the wake of September 11, states have each taken and are continuing to take the interim steps necessary to ensure that our citizens are protected. In many cases, these actions may not be the most cost efficient, such as temporary use of the National Guard to secure airports while a permanent security force is hired and trained. Yet, the priority of each Governor has been to take the immediate actions necessary to ensure the safety of our citizens.

 

Even as we take these short-term steps, each of the states, through the comprehensive statewide planning process, is developing a blueprint for Homeland Security. Among the many areas to be addressed in those plans are:

• A focus on prevention: what actions and investments can we take to ensure that critical information is shared, analyzed and acted upon in a timely manner? What are the appropriate steps for securing our nation’s critical infrastructure including the 362 ports nationwide, approximately 168,000 public drinking water systems, 600,000 miles of sanitary sewers, and 200,000 miles of storm sewers? Likewise, how can we protect our food supply from the threat of terrorist attack and build the capacity to trace potential food borne illness outbreaks, food contamination and infectious animal diseases?

• Incident management: Clarification of roles, ensuring that training throughout the state is uniform and coordinated, developing necessary reciprocal agreements both within the state and with surrounding states, ensuring the interoperability of equipment, and ensuring the capacity for disease surveillance and detection exists throughout the state.

• Response: Identification of the training and equipment needed by first responders, plans for escalating response beyond the local jurisdiction to surrounding jurisdictions, state-wide and then beyond the state borders, and identification of medical supplies and personnel and facilities necessary to treat victims of a public health emergency.

These are questions that are best answered in coordination with federal officials who have decades of experience in countering and, for the most part, preventing terrorism. Governors believe that the Department of Homeland Security should take the lead in sharing this expertise with state and local officials charged daily with the protection of potential terrorist targets. Moreover, the Department should encourage states to share their own unique Homeland Security experiences and, with the assistance of federal experts, make information on how to duplicate anti-terror “successes” available to all state and local officials.

 

The Department should also increase its role in serving as a clearinghouse for technology and products related to Homeland Security. Currently, each state’s Homeland Security advisor is inundated with vendors’ products addressing the diverse issues of security. In the tight timeframe within which federal dollars must be turned around by the states, evaluating the competing claims of these vendors can be extremely difficult. And the technical and or scientific expertise needed to separate the truly innovative and effective products from the snake oil is often lacking. A “Consumer Reports”-like department that can test products, interview purchasers/users and disseminate that information would be tremendously helpful.

 

I am encouraged to see that language necessary to meet these goals was included in Senator Collins’ first responder legislation, and has been spoken of positively by the leadership of this committee. Similarly, I applaud the efforts in both the House and Senate to streamline and simplify the myriad grants available to state and local governments for Homeland Security-related purposes. Establishing “one-stop shopping” for these funds is another means by which the federal government can consolidate and make available valuable information to states.

 

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, we can best ensure that we are able to invest wisely in Homeland Security in this nation if funding is distributed through the states based on a comprehensive and integrated state-wide plan, if information sharing and intelligence sharing between federal, state and local governments is maximized, and if state and local officials have access to the most up-to-date information available in the field. Mr. Chairman, the nation’s Governors understand the difficult task and the challenges ahead in protecting the homeland, and stand ready to work in partnership with the President and Congress to meet these challenges.


June 17, 2003

ROMNEY UNVEILS MARKETING EFFORT FOR BIZ EXPANSION

Kicks off multi-million dollar “Massachusetts, It’s all Here” campaign

 

CAMBRIDGE – As part of the effort to rev up the Massachusetts economy, Governor Mitt Romney today kicked off a multi-million dollar integrated marketing campaign to attract new jobs and businesses to the Bay State.

 

Massachusetts is one of the most attractive states in the nation in which to do business because of our tremendous resources. We have a highly educated workforce, some of the world’s finest health care institutions and top-of-the-line infrastructure,” said Romney. “Now, we need to do a better job of getting the word out.”

 

He added, “I’ve got news for North Carolina and other states that are actively competing against us: With literally thousands of jobs at stake, we are not going to sit by idly.”

 

The campaign is designed to attract fast-growing industries to the state, such as biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, new security/defense and plastics. For each of these sectors, the state will identify companies, both within and outside the state, planning to build or lease facilities in the near future and encourage them to come to Massachusetts.

 

Specific components of the campaign include the development of marketing materials, print ads in statewide and national publications and a coordinated effort to make it easier for businesses to build facilities here.

 

The state’s Department of Economic Development has committed $250,000 to this effort, with the remainder being financed by MassDevelopment and individual companies in the private sector.

 

“I urge all businesses in the state to become an active participant in this effort and contribute to the Commonwealth’s success,” said Romney. “Next week, at the Bio 2003 show, I will personally meet with a number of biopharmaceutical companies who are on the verge of expansion and convince them that Massachusetts is the place to be.”

 

Some of the benefits of doing business in the Commonwealth that Romney will highlight include significant tax benefits, such as single sales factor, investment tax credits, and research and development tax credits, and access to a highly skilled, educated and productive workforce.

 

In addition, the state will also identify a number of sites that are pre-screened for

 

development. This will enable companies to build on these sites without having to go through the local permitting process.

 

Said Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey: “One of the obstacles to economic growth in Massachusetts has been the process by which companies apply for and receive business permits. The state’s often unwieldy and lengthy permitting process is part of a heavy-handed regulatory environment that, in the past, has stifled business expansion and productivity.”

 

Contributors to the integrated campaign include: Beal Companies, Drug Discovery Conference, Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development (MAED), Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Massachusetts Economic Development Council, National Grid, Nstar, O’Connell Companies, Spaulding and Slye, Western Mass Electric and Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC).

 

 


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