The Congressional Budget Office today published a cost estimate for H.R. 3875, which would establish the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives Office in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), consisting of existing offices in DHS.
The legislation also would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO), within two years of the bill’s enactment, to prepare a report to the Congress on DHS research and development programs relating to explosives and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats.
H.R. 3875 was introduced on Nov. 2, 2015 by Rep. McCaul, Michael T. (R-TX). The mission of the CBRNE Office is to coordinate, strengthen, and provide chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) capabilities in support of homeland security.
The CBRNE Office will be headed by an Assistant Secretary for the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives Office, who shall be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.
Responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary shall include:
- Develop, coordinate, and maintain overall CBRNE strategy and policy for DHS
- Develop, coordinate, and maintain for the DHS periodic CBRNE risk assessments
- Serve as the primary Department representative for coordinating CBRNE activities with other Federal departments and agencies
- Provide oversight for DHS preparedness for CBRNE threats
- Provide support for operations during CBRNE threats or incidents
The Director of the Chemical Division, the Director of the Biological Division, the Director of the Nuclear Division, and the Director of the Explosives Division shall report directly to the Assistant Secretary.
The functions, personnel, budget authority, and assets of the following offices would be transferred to the CBRNE Office:
- The Office of Health Affairs, including the Chief Medical Officer and the National Biosurveillance Integration Center
- The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (and redesignated as the Nuclear Division)
- CBRNE threat awareness and risk assessment activities of the Science and Technology Directorate.
- The CBRNE functions of the Office of Policy and the Office of Operations Coordination.
- The Office for Bombing Prevention of the National Protection and Programs Directorate
Based on information from the department on its current plans to consolidate the offices affected by the bill, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 3875 would not significantly affect DHS spending. Based on the cost of similar reports, they estimate that it would cost GAO less than $1 million over the 2016-2017 period to prepare the report required by the bill.
CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3875 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.