Washington Weekly – October 24, 2014

October 24, 2014

Both the House and Senate were in recess this week.

House Republican Strategy Memo

On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a memo to House Republicans in which he wrote that the party’s central policy goal of “restoring economic growth and job creation” will include a focus on “restoring competency in government.” Restoring competency requires both “shrinking government to its appropriate scope and mission and reforming how government operates in its core sphere.” So a portion of their legislative agenda for the 114th Congress will focus on reforming and streamlining federal agencies. McCarthy mentioned three examples of this type of legislation that passed the House in this Congress – pipeline permitting reforms, federal mining permit reforms, and FDA reforms – and asked his Republican members to think about areas of government reform they would like to focus on during the next Congress. McCarthy also wrote that their party “must legislate differently in order to restore trust in government.” He offered suggestions of sunsetting new agency reports and including basic regulatory reforms in any legislation that authorizes or requires new regulations. And he ends with asking members again for their suggestions, “if you have any legislative ideas or process reforms you would like considered as we formulate next year’s legislative agenda and revise on our internal protocols, please email or call me or have your staff reach out to mine.”

A copy of his memo can be found at:


DHS Science & Technology Directorate Visionary Goals

The Department of Homeland Security unveiled new visionary goals this week for its Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate. The long-term goals (20-30 years out) were finalized after collecting input from stakeholders in government, academia, and the private sector industrial base. The new visionary goals that will drive S&T’s strategic plan are:

  • Screening at Speed: Security that Matches the Pace of Life.

Noninvasive, unobtrusive screening of people, baggage or cargo at speed while respecting privacy.

  • A Trusted Cyber Future: Protecting Privacy, Commerce, and Community.

Underlying digital infrastructure that is self-detecting, self-protecting and self-healing protecting information is protected, ensuring privacy, and deterring illegal use.

  • Enable the Decision Maker: Actionable Information at the Speed of Thought.

Predictive analytics, risk analysis and modeling-and-simulation systems to enable critical and proactive decisions made based on the most relevant information, transforming data into actionable information.

  • Responder of the Future: Protected, Connected, and Fully Aware.

Responders of the future will be armed with comprehensive physical protection, interoperable tools, and networked threat detection and mitigation capabilities.

  • Resilient Communities: Disaster-Proofing Society.

Critical infrastructure of the future will be designed, built and maintained to withstand naturally-occurring and man-made disasters. Rapidly-deployable countermeasures will shield communities from negative consequences.

Political Updates

Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia started as the new CIO of the Treasury Department and deputy assistant secretary of information systems this week. Bhagowalia was most recently Hawaii’s CIO and adviser to the governor. Prior to that he was deputy associate administrator in GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, CIO of the Interior Department and Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a program management executive at the FBI. Prior to joining the federal government, he spent 14 years at Boeing as chief engineer of business development and systems integration. The Treasury CIO position has been vacant since the June retirement of Robyn East, with Deputy CIO Mike Parker filling in during the interim. As Treasury CIO, Bhagowalia will be in charge of a $3.5 billion IT/IRM portfolio and will be responsible for the department’s IT strategy, managing its IT investments and leading new technology initiatives.

Chris Chris Cummiskey, Under Secretary for Management (acting) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week that after six years at DHS and 24 years in public service that he would be leaving Oct 31 to pursue opportunities in the public sector.

Andrew Marshall, the 93-year old Director of the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA) announced this week that he will retire in January. ONA was created in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to serve as the Pentagon’s internal think tank. Marshall has been at the helm of this internal think tank for 41 years, which was tasked with looking 20 to 30 years into the military’s future. During that time Marshall was seen as being able to keep the office independent of political or bureaucratic influence. Funding for ONA was sustained this year amid a restructuring of the Office of the Secretary of Defense when it was decided that it would begin reporting to the undersecretary of defense for policy. Prior to the restructuring the office was independent and reported directly to the Secretary of Defense. There is much speculation over the future of the office and who will run it.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Allison Macfarlane announced this week that she plans to resign at the end of the year. The White House could appoint one of the four current commissioners as chairman, or it may appoint a new nominee as chairman. The nominee requires Senate confirmation, so Macfarlane’s departure could keep the agency evenly divided if Republican’s retake the Senate in the November elections. Macfarlane was appointed by President Obama after a period of tumult on the commission. She became chairman in July 2012 after the previous chairman, Gregory Jaczko, resigned after clashes with the agency’s four other commissioners over a variety of issues. Macfarlane is expected to join George Washington University as director of the school’s Center for International Science and Technology Policy.

Dr. Robert Griffin was appointed as the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Deputy Under Secretary. Griffin has been serving in an acting capacity in the position since May 2014. Prior to this appointment, Griffin served as the Director of S&T’s First Responders Group. He has also served as the first director of the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management, the Director of Environmental Services for Arlington County, and the Assistant County Administrator and Chief of Fire and Rescue in Loudoun County. Griffin also is currently on the faculty of Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute where he teaches graduate-level courses in state and local governance.

Deputy Secretary of State and “Diplomatic Legend” Bill Burns retired this week after a 32-year career as a Foreign Service officer. Burns is only the second career diplomat to rise to the deputy position. Burns also has served as under secretary of state for political affairs and as assistant secretary for the Middle East. In addition, he has been an ambassador to Russia and to Jordan and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council. There is speculation that he could be replaced by Wendy Sherman, undersecretary for political affairs or Tony Blinken, deputy national security advisor.

Next Week

The House and Senate are in recess until November 12.

Comments are closed.