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Monday, December 30, 2013

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress - R42918


Dana A. Shea
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes. The 113
th Congress extended this authority through January 15, 2014. Congressional policymakers have debated the scope and details of reauthorization and continue to consider establishing an authority with longer duration. Some Members of Congress support an extension, either short- or long-term, of the existing authority. Other Members call for revision and more extensive codification of chemical facility security regulatory provisions. Questions regarding the current law’s effectiveness in reducing chemical facility risk and the sufficiency of federal chemical facility security efforts exacerbate the tension between continuing current policies and changing the statutory authority.

Congressional policymakers have questioned DHS’s effectiveness in implementing the authorized regulations, called chemical facility anti-terrorism standards (CFATS). The DHS finalized CFATS regulations in 2007. Since then, the site security plans for 362 chemical facilities have been approved in the CFATS process, which starts with information submission by chemical facilities and finishes with inspection and approval of facility security measures by DHS. Several factors, including the amount of detailed information provided to DHS, the effectiveness of DHS program management, and the availability of CFATS inspectors, likely complicate the inspection process and lead to delays in inspection. Policymakers have questioned whether the compliance rate with CFATS is sufficient to mitigate this homeland security risk.

Key policy issues debated in previous Congresses contribute to the current reauthorization debate. These issues include the adequacy of DHS resources and efforts; the appropriateness and scope of federal preemption of state chemical facility security activities; the availability of information for public comment, potential litigation, and congressional oversight; the range of chemical facilities identified by DHS; and the ability of inherently safer technologies to achieve security goals.

The 113
th Congress might take various approaches to this issue. Congress might allow the statutory authority to expire but continue providing appropriations to administer the regulations. Congress might permanently or temporarily extend the statutory authority to observe the impact of the current regulations and, if necessary, address any perceived weaknesses at a later date. Congress might codify the existing regulations in statute and reduce the discretion available to the Secretary of Homeland Security to change the current regulatory framework. Alternatively, Congress might substantively change the current regulation’s implementation, scope, or impact by amending the existing statute or creating a new one. Finally, Congress might choose to terminate the program by allowing its authority to lapse and removing funding for the program. This would leave regulation of chemical facility security to state and local governments.

Date of Report: November 27, 2013
Number of Pages: 46
Order Number: R42918
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues - 97-868


Lennard G. Kruger
Specialist in Science and Technology Policy

Navigating the Internet requires using addresses and corresponding names that identify the location of individual computers. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet. Many of the technical, operational, and management decisions regarding the DNS can have significant impacts on Internet-related policy issues such as intellectual property, privacy, Internet freedom, e-commerce, and cybersecurity.

The DNS is managed and operated by a not-for-profit public benefit corporation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Because the Internet evolved from a network infrastructure created by the Department of Defense, the U.S. government originally owned and operated (primarily through private contractors) the key components of network architecture that enable the domain name system to function. A 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ICANN and the Department of Commerce (DOC) initiated a process intended to transition technical DNS coordination and management functions to a privatesector not-for-profit entity. While the DOC played no role in the internal governance or day-today operations of the DNS, ICANN remained accountable to the U.S. government through the MOU, which was superseded in 2006 by a Joint Project Agreement (JPA). On September 30, 2009, the JPA between ICANN and DOC expired and was replaced by an Affirmation of Commitments (AoC), which provides for review panels to periodically assess ICANN processes and activities.

Additionally, a contract between DOC and ICANN authorizes the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to perform various technical functions such as allocating IP address blocks, editing the root zone file, and coordinating the assignment of unique protocol numbers. With the current contract due to expire on September 30, 2012, NTIA announced on July 2, 2012, the award of the new IANA contract to ICANN for up to seven years.

With the expiration of the ICANN-DOC Joint Project Agreement on September 30, 2009, the announcement of the new AoC, the renewal of the IANA contract, and the rollout of the new generic top level domain (gTLD) program, the 113
th Congress and the Administration are likely to continue assessing the appropriate federal role with respect to ICANN and the DNS, and examine to what extent ICANN is positioned to ensure Internet stability and security, competition, private and bottom-up policymaking and coordination, and fair representation of the global Internet community. Controversies over the new gTLDs and the addition of the .xxx domain have led some governments to criticize the ICANN policymaking process and to suggest various ways to increase governmental influence over that process. How these and other issues are ultimately addressed and resolved could have profound impacts on the continuing evolution of ICANN, the DNS, and the Internet.

Date of Report: December 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: 97-868
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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Federal Funding and Issues - RS22168


Mark Gurevitz
Information Research Specialist

Glenn J. McLoughlin
Section Research Manager

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) receives virtually all of its funding through federal appropriations; overall, about 15% of all public television and radio broadcasting funding comes from the federal appropriations that CPB distributes. CPB’s appropriation is allocated through a distribution formula established in its authorizing legislation and has historically received two-year advanced appropriations. Congressional policymakers are increasingly interested in the federal role in supporting CPB due to concerns over the federal debt, the role of the federal government funding for public radio and television, and whether public broadcasting provides a balanced and nuanced approach to covering news of national interest.

It is also important to note that many congressional policymakers defend the federal role of funding public broadcasting. They contend that it provides news and information to large segments of the population that seek to understand complex policy issues in depth, and in particular for children’s television broadcasting, has a significant and positive impact on early learning and education for children.

On June 20, 2012, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting released a report, Alternative Sources of Funding for Public Broadcasting Stations. The report was undertaken in response to the conference report accompanying the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Appropriations Act of 2012 (incorporated into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2012, H.R. 2055, P.L. 112-74). The CPB engaged the consulting firm of Booz & Company to explore possible alternatives to the federal appropriation to CPB. Among its findings, the report stated that ending federal funding for public broadcasting would severely diminish, if not destroy, public broadcasting service in the United States.

On October 17, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-46), which provides a continuing resolution of federal appropriations through January 15, 2014. This law provides an FY2014 appropriations for CPB of $422 million, reflecting the 5.2% across-the-board federal government sequestration reduction of the original CPB appropriations of $445 million.

Date of Report: December 6, 2013
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RS22168
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