tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 23, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EST
worried about the security of every olympic games pose 9/11 the reality is security of the olympics weather in the united states or london or athens or sochi become a principal concern for policymakers around world because the olympics become such a target rich environment for terrorist groups including those that have designed not just
globally but locally and regionally. the security concerns in sochi are even greater and more justified, let me explain why. terrorist groups led by the caucuses but not solely, and central asian groups, have the clear intent to disrupt the sochi olympics or to embarrass the russians in a particular vladimir putin who has so personalized the olympics and the success of them. and the past summer, very clear about the desire to have major at tax or major disruptions, significantly in july, a
punitive than, and softer targets, transportation hubs, civilian sites, desire to engage in these attacks as seen through their video postings, blogs and communications so the intent is clear and it would have been obvious even absent their open declarations but the open declarations made it clear for authorities. they also have the capability. you have seen that with the three attacks since september. we have seen this in their past attacks, in particular those directed since 2009, the high-speed attack between moscow and st. petersburg, the airport attack and other attacks that predated. what is interesting and important that the caucuses, various groups and operatives demonstrated multiple modalities in terms of attack vectors.
they can use a variety of means to attack not just a variety of targets to focus on, they have used suicide bombers to include the now famed black widows, used teams of operatives, used assault teams, vector against airplanes, metros and trains, hospitals, security sites, so the modalities and capabilities match, avatar get rich environment and demonstrated the ability to organize different types of attacks based on opportunities available to them and that is why reports of a singular black widow getting into sochi becomes concerning in part because of the potential that she is a singular act intended to disrupt but could also be that she is part of a broader series of suicide bombers that have been dispatched to attack different sites so no doubt the russians
are following not just reports of a singular actor but multiple threats and individuals, lastly they have the opportunity, the olympics center stage, world media would be trained, and activities, social activities around it. in addition, you have the proximity, rather brazen on the part of vladimir putin to place the olympics so close to the caucasus, and used to operating in this environment, opportunities to planned attacks not just in sochi but the media environment. the terrorists in this context for the purposes of disruption and embarrassment don't necessarily have to get into the inner rings of security within sochi to have declared
successful attack. and in the immediate environment and transportation hubs, 2 s sense of instability. and in moscow, debate in delegations circles, to withdraw athletes. that would be disastrous after the olympics. in terms of why this is so unique at this time, relatively and reported. that is the fact that as andy said we are talking about a movement, a global jihadis movement, it is in many ways is born out of the chechen conflict and insurgencies of the 90s and
2,000s. ps group's are animated and populated by global jihadis actors. and the leadership of the caucasus, emirates, many of whom have gone on to fight including places like syria. a very open and active role diplomatically in supporting assad which has brought russia back into the center as a far an emmy for the global jihadis movement and you begin to see that narrative play out in some of the terrorist discourse. russia is not just an actor in regard to the chechen insurgency
or fight. and the global context of the global jihad in narrative. syria in many ways is a key accelerant in real terms and ideological terms. one of the concerns for the u.s. in this regard, you started to hear more and more about this from u.s. lawmakers and the security officials but they are threefold. the obvious fact you have a real terrorist threat, these aren't just imaginings, or one off threats that have to be chased down as often the u.s. has to. there's a real terrorist threat that exposes athletes, sponsors, u.s. citizens that are going to attend, and we have very good questions about how secure are the rings of security around the sochi venues and sites, but how well i they secured? have you secured well enough
where athletes and sponsors are? if you secure that and secure well enough transportation in and out so the raw security question emerges, very important questions and there is growing sense of lack of confidence in that security despite the russian assurances. lastly, perhaps most importantly, you started to hear including from chairman rogers of the house until committee concerns over a lack of visibility and cooperation from the russians, those mentioning to jill, started the remarks, usually what you have in the olympics is most countries very prideful, wanting to secure the olympics, manage it themselves and succeed for national pride and other reasons. with the u.s. offering support and help in a variety of ways
most countries don't accept -- they can do it themselves conlan as you get closer to the day of the event most countries accept more assistance because the reality of the daunting task of securing the olympics and the threat becomes more real, that i don't think is happening in the russian context. the reverse is happening. the russians of grown more concerned over the stretch and are concerned over the perception of insecurity and therefore have not wanted to allow the united states and other security services in underground to assist. in an olympics like london as you can imagine, u.s. worked closely with british security officials to create a cohesive command centers, that in my estimation is not happening in the context of sochi and that has created concern and why you have started to u.s. officials
speak openly about those concerns. in addition that is why you see reports today in the press about contingency plans the u.s. is making for potential worst-case scenario, transport aircraft being repositioned, naval resources and warships being placed offshore in the worst case scenario, you have wounded athletes or citizens you need to get out and so you will see a lot more of that where the u.s. is trying to take into account the fact we don't have on the ground cooperation of resources as we have in the past. very quickly, the challenges for the russians and the international community, this is not any olympics, an international event despite the fact that it has been so personalized by vladimir putin and the russians but the russians have to not only secure the sites as they are trying to
do with physical security and intelligence and individuals, they are going to want to disrupt as much as possible any terrorist activity and you see the reports, and attend to demonstrate the russians i trying to disrupt these activities and i agree with andrew kuchins with respect to the individual it matters much less with respect to whether he is alive now with respect to the olympics because i think all the terrorist groups that want to attack the sochi olympics know they want to attack the sochi olympics and will try to do so. they obviously need to secure the site and need to worry about the perception of security. this is key because you could have a relatively minor terrorist attack in the opening ceremonies, the general environment, and it begins to affect the sense of security for
the olympics, in many ways terrorists to win in terms of that perception. a quick final note we often forget that squarely in the minds of security officials, you have not just the winter olympics in february but in march. you have two sets of events that are critical internationally that require the russians to engage in securities not just in the month of february, but february through march. i would dare say that the terrorists would prefer to attack the sochi olympics in february but if they launch significant attacks. this is a two month endeavour for the russians that is going to be fought with real threats and real concerns for the russians, the u.s. and others who have olympians at the sight.
>> with that we would like to open up to your questions, questions, please. >> thank you. i would like to follow up on that u.s. side of it. what does the united states do, to your knowledge, what is the state of play in terms of any type of cooperation in potentially coming in and getting americans out of there, people who are competing more tourists or officials, and what does the u.s. do if they do not have permission on the ground? how do they work that out in advance, you were mentioning that. what is the next step for the united states? what is happening right now? >> ideally in the olympics you have state department diplomatic
security officials, fbi and other officials who are cleared into the various venues or command center or in some way integrated into the on the ground security. i am no longer in government so i don't know what the status of that is that given the public comments we have seen, the u.s. government is not getting a lot of clearances for individuals from the state department to be on the ground at particular sites. that is different for security for individual teams and such but i would venture to say we are doing the best with what we can on the ground and what you have seen publicly is contingency planning, to determine what happens in the worst-case scenario and you have seen reports, movement of u.s. military assets and personnel in this regard. so you would have the state
department leaning that planning, determining how best to get citizens in and out in case of an emergency and you would hopefully have free cleared plans, clearances for ingress and egress in the case of an attack in russia. i would assume the russians are going to want to control any of that, any security service in any country is going to want to have full capability and control, attack or worst case scenario so it is likely the case the u.s. doesn't have assets in the event of an emergency. it will happen as events unfold. >> this gentleman. i feel cut identify yourself and a microphone that would be great.
>> tell us what you know about the interplay with the reported groups of terrorists fighting in parts of syria. are they getting stronger with the hottest groups in other countries? is that significantly affecting the situation around the olympics? >> the syrian foreign fighter problem in particular, the flow of caucuses based fighters in and out of syria amplifies the concern. part of this is the ideological and narrative dimensions of what this does to animate the threat but also populates sort of the environment with other actors
who are trained, tested and perhaps willing to attack. keep in mind the syrian conflict has attracted more fighters than we saw in the iraq conflict, more than what we saw in the afghan mujahedin days. we have seen plenty of reporting of western european services, north african services, gulf services very concerned about the flow of fighters in and out of syria and one thing i would say is concerned that officials should have that the survival rate appears to be much higher in the syrian foreign fighter contest, 4 insiders would flow in but they wouldn't follow out. that is not necessarily the case in syria where foreign fighters are starting to flow back and what that means for the russian service's ability to monitor who is going in and out of syria i
don't know but it is something they should be concerned about. >> to follow upon that there are reports of hundreds of foreign fighters from the north caucasus in syria itself so how many actually are there is impossible to say but there are many there. this is one really big reason and it has been underestimated over the past two years for y. vladimir putin held this position on syria because when he looks at who are the most effective leaders in syria, he sees the same kinds of individuals in groups, sometimes literally the same individuals in groups that he has been dealing with in the north caucuses or that he and his central asian colleagues are dealing with the late 1990s,
particularly coming out of afghanistan, that is in particular why this issue is deeply personal for him and if the syrian conflict had receded and foreign fighters were leaving syria there is no doubt in my mind that that would increase the danger that those from the north caucuses or others or up from the north caucuses would return there and increase the threat, increased the threat, the threat there. a friend of mine was a month or two ago at the airport in istanbul transferring caw and he heard russian spoken by people who clearly looked like what you would imagine a foreign fighter
in syria to look like. it was rather unnerving, since he himself at the time was transiting into the -- not the northern caucasus but the south caucus. >> bill douglas. >> i am curious about the capabilities of the enemy. counterterrorism or something of this magnitude. can you speak to their ability to handle large-scale events like this? and experience doing this before? >> jeffrey mankoff? >> vladimir putin in his press conference just the other day noted that no, russia had not had the experience of securing
an event of the magnitude of the sochi olympics. so the answer is no. you have to go back to the moscow olympics in 1980. for, i think, an international event of this magnitude which, quote, russians had to deal with. of course that was in the context of just having invaded and attacked afghanistan. which of course led to we essentially the creation of the mujahedin and much of the problem we see here today. the simple answer is no. juan zurate can speak to this
much more effectively. you never know the number of successfules in preventing terrorist attacks. we only know about the failures. simply the fact that we saw significant failures three times in the recent -- at the end of last year, october, two in december and closer to sochi at the end of the year. the daily bombings and problems that there are in the north caucuses, if not at the frequency of what we are seeing in iraq. there are 25 car bombings the day approximately. so magnitude for sure is no, the capacity of the f s b is very
hard to say. to juan zurate's point earlier, the fact that the russians have been reluctant to embrace support from the united states partly out of reasons of intelligence cooperation is a delicate matter in the best of times, we had pretty affective intelligence cooperation with the russians after 9/11. at that time the russians were providing us as i heard more high-quality operational intelligence that we were able to provide them. but we know that the relationship and the level of trust between the two countries deteriorated significantly since then. that is a problem for sure. then there is the sort of nature of the russian psychology, not just russian psychology but more so that we can do this on our
own and we don't need your help and for vladimir putin such a sore spot because we did not recognize in his view soon enough and he has a legitimate beef about this, the nature of the threat even in the mid 90s in the first chechen war when it was mostly a movement of national liberation there was a significant foreign element there. fighters also sources of financing, training for them. that factor was much more significant in the second chechen war, and it really rankles deeply that this was not adequately adequately recognized and this is starting on the double standards and only
accentuate its the chip on the shoulder so to speak about this forum and the state department did a smart thing a few years ago in the caucuses, on the list of recognize terrorist groups and individuals, but some would say in russia that was too little too late. finally we have to look at what happened with the tsarnaev brothers. there was inadequate communication between u.s. and russian intelligence services tracking and following these guys and when the elder brother had gone to what is now the
heart of the islamic threat region in the north caucasus, how effectively where they tracking him? we just don't know and not knowing doesn't increase confidence. >> information sharing between the united states and russia or both? >> my suspicion that it is both. >> i would add two things on this topic. one, you heard a lot of discussion of this in the russian press recently in terms of the capacity of the security service, they are structured differently from the way security services in the west are structured. the main goal is regime security rather than public security and obviously with a high profile politically significant event like the olympics those things
are connected. but nevertheless i think the bowl of the security state that vladimir putin search -- vladimir putin himself came, very much directed more at inflating the regime from precious coming from outside rather than it is towards securing a public hearing by general. in the context of the olympics trying to make that pivot to do more of a public security role because of the political importance that it has and i don't know about the capacity to do that. the second point i would emphasize here, something we haven't talked about, a lot of context related to corruption. the discussion in russia has been the lead up to the games focused on this element, the amount of money that was
misappropriated into dodgy contract and offshore bank accounts, these other most expensive olympic games ever, upwards of $150 billion, a third of that may have been embezzled or stolen. what does this have to do with security? operationally, the security services can be supreme be effective but they are only in the macro sense as effective as their weakest link. in a lot of cases the weakest link is corruption. if you think about the successful attacks that have been carried out in russia over the last decade or so, one that really striking when chechen suicide bombers blew up russian aircraft in 2007 or so, don't remember, 2004, essentially what
happened was women bribe their way through security checkpoints, they bribed the guards at the airport to let them on to the planes even though they hadn't gone through proper procedures, they were not searched and they detonated suicide bombs when they were on board. the system can be set up in a way that is designed to focus on these kinds of threats but it only takes one person, one corrupt guard who is willing to look the other way in exchange for a bribe of one kind or another to have the entire thing come up part for a successful attack to be pulled off. that is one of the real unknowns as we think about how secure the olympics can be. >> that is a very important point. just no one of the planes that was targeted in that 2004 attack was headed to sochi
interestingly. one thing i would say about the russian security services is they are ruthless and effective when they want to be. if you look at the history of u.s. designations of individuals, terrorists from the caucasus region or otherwise, most of those individuals end up dead because the russians kill them. the russians can be ruthless and effective when they want to be. there are huge limitations and i think they will be challenged here. >> voice of america washington service. my question, in the latest statement, the pakistani took responsibility, also to attack sochi including chemical
weapons. how seriously in your opinion, is there any connection to syria in your opinion? thank you. >> i think to andy's initial point, part of this is building the perception of insecurity so you have to sort of modulate one's reaction to anything terrorist groups indicate but you have to take it seriously of course. one of the concerns russian and u.s. officials had to have is the ability of groups in the caucasus to get their hands on w. indy, chemical weapons or nuclear components. that has been a source of great concern for a number of years. the fact that syria is a cauldron of conflict, chemical weapons available to the actors certainly heightens that concern, but i myself have not
seen anything that would suggest a caravan of chemical weapons to sochi for a tax. is the kind of thing you have to take seriously and no doubt something the u.s. authorities of looking at in terms of red vectors. >> an excellent question. i thought you would bring up another question also but i am sure someone will. it was striking to me in the diametrically opposed responses of u.s. and russian officials, august 21st brutal quote chemical weapons attack in syria, the largest one that had been perpetrated by a long shot, and it puzzles me a lot.
in thinking about it i was trying to think what could be a plausible case where the two sides aren't fundamentally disagreeing so much, the plausible -- plausible case would be actually the russian government response that the assad forces have no incentive for chemical weapons since they knew what was the only contingency that could possibly bring upon an american military strike. there's a logic to that for short. there is a corollary logic to that. the opposition somehow could
gain control of some chemical weapons in syria, and make it appear as though assad's forces had carried out that strike there would be huge incentive for them to do that. because that would not only bring the american military strike but more significant international support for them in their fight against the assad government. knowing that the time that before our agreement on the chemical weapons initiative, the diffusion of chemical weapons sites around syria, there are so many sites, it just seems it would only take again, one person or one group to get a hold of one site among 40 or
more than 40 that existed to have access to the weapons. so i think this is supporting what juan zurate is saying, we have to take this seriously and because of the transnational nature of the groups, individuals parrot fighting in syria, certainly this is the one issue, the moment which the u.s.-russian relationship began to turn around and over the chemical weapons initiative and subsequently in our talks about the nuclear weapons program, whether it is true or not what they are saying it is certainly clearly has to be taken with the utmost seriousness.
>> good morning, i was wondering if you could elaborate a little more on whether we might expect to see more reports coming out in the next two weeks before the opening ceremony and what are your expectations for protests for human rights, anti-gay legislation and that sort of thing particularly in the zone they set far from the park? >> in my opening remarks, and too flippant, although when i look at the picture i look at the video and it does make you think this could be a total hoax, someone just having fun like the intern at katy b. you news in san francisco who fed the report at the teleprompter
and after the asian airliner kind of crash landed in san francisco about the names of the pilots. wy so locomment that kind of thing, someone trying to be funny but not really funny. i think we are going to see, i would expect to see more reports like this for reasons juan zurate elaborated simply to enhance or increase the sense of insecurity around the games. there have to be for that to really be effective there do have to be some terrorist attacks to accompany it. i would expect to see more of this in the weeks ahead. i can only say i am very relieved at least at this point we haven't seen any more attacks
of the magnitude that we saw in boca grande three weeks ago because my fear is that could be the beginning of a series of attacks that could take place on a weekly basis or more frequently that would effectively destroy the games whether or not sochi was attacked itself. on v l d b t issue --lgbt issue, vladimir putin tried to deflect that in his press conference call vote in doing so it only kind of i think probably enraged many in the lgbt community and their supporters more, with the
way he -- no one is going to get thrown in jail, this kind of legislation is actually more liberal than in many other places and really what we're talking about is propaganda about this that has been disseminated, finally just leave our children alone. the effect he was trying to to address, diffuse the problem was not very effective way of doing it, shall we say. all i can say is i hope the russian authorities have learned enough from the response they have seen to be issued over the last two months, that they will handle it with the utmost care and do their best not to inflame
the issue in responding to to any kind of sort of act or demonstration or statements that take place. after following russia for so long sometimes i feel you can never underestimate their capacity to cut their nose off to spite their face but maybe jeff has something to say on this. >> on this question of hoaxes or threats that may or may not actually be real or may or may not actually lead to attacks this gets to the point candy made about how these particular games are such an important political project for vladimir putin and the russian regime more broadly. there is a particular narrative vladimir putin and the government trying to get across and they are using the olympics
to advance that narrative about how russia has recovered, it is back on its feet, they succeeded in bringing stability not only to russia but specifically the north caucasus which has been such a volatile area for two decades. to the extent jihadists, insurgents or whatever you want to call them succeed in changing that narrative, getting the discussions surrounding the olympics not to be that russia is back on its feet that vladimir putin has brought stability but there's this instability, in security and that is what everyone is focusing on, it gets it undercutting the message the government is trying to get across regardless whether there's a successful attack. that changes the narrative even more. of an f there is this kind of low-level chatter that basically takes the attention of everybody going to sochi and looking at
the olympics off of attempts to use this to bolster the prestige of the regime than in some sense that is a success for these insurgents as well. >> vladimir putin has been very successful in the eyes of many in his foreign policy in the past year. successful sochi olympics accentuate it. it takes the eyes off of other issues going on inside russia because inside russia things are problematic when you look at one of vladimir putin's most important reasons he is popular in russia is russians are living more prosperous lee than they ever have in their history. they experienced this remarkable period of growth from 2008-1998-2008, came back to a level of 4% growth which was okay, not with a wanted to be
but vladimir putin has become president russian economic growth has fallen close to zero and in 2013 it was 1.3% and in the last quarter of 2013 it was close to zero and incomes were falling. the sense that he has brought prosperity to russia the olympics go badly, they are disgruntled and people looking around and saying things are not going so well economically right now in russia, if you were to have a dip in the oil price which is so important for the performance of the russian economy than one can start imagining the scenario where his leadership is under much more pressure than one would have imagined. there is also an element, have the world focus on the successful russia, come to see what the new russia is like,
completely different from what the old soviet union was like. this is not your father's buick. this is the new russia, one reason they spent so much money. a lot has been embezzled or what not as a showcase. >> the question is an important one because in planning for the security of any event whether it was a g 20 meeting or the olympics you have got to account for a multiplicity of disruptions or potential disruptions so to the extent there has been planning i am assuming there is planning for everything from dealing with low-level criminality all the way to high end terrorism and in between are disruptions tied to demonstrations or unanticipated gatherings of individuals that could be disruptive and could then combine with other threats to create a problem. the question is a good one.
we have been focused on the terrorist threat and security around that but any security service looking at a major event like this is looking at a full sweep of potential disruptions that has to be taken into account singularly and in combination. >> we have time for a couple more. >> ericsson with hispanic link news service in washington. what short of any kind of disruption or attack might cause the united states to withdraw from your perception from the olympics and what do you know about what preparations mexico and latin american countries are taking to ensure the safety of
their athletes? >> do i do this in spanish? i don't know what the latin american countries are doing. usually what happens in an event like this is you have reliance on the host country to provide the adequate security, communications. most delegations have their own security officer protocols. the u.s. best in class in that regard and the most demanding international player in terms of security for its athletes and citizens. to answer your first question, absent an actual attack what would be disruptive to u.s. participation in the olympics, the only thing i can imagine is if there were a very serious credible set of threats directed at u.s. athletes or venues u.s. athletes would be attending. combined with a sense the
russians are not sharing of information was being done to counter and the we have an inability to counter it ourselves so if there's a real sense of serious risk to our athletes that is imminent, material and can't be counted then you could see a discussion in the situation room around what is to be done but that kind of decision is taken incredibly seriously. nobody wants to see the olympics disrupted, pulling american athletes out would be disastrous for everybody i think, and would give the terrorists a victory. you would want to take that decision very carefully and only in the most serious of situations. >> with fast i would like to thank everybody for coming out this morning. this briefing will be archived at csis.org, and we will have a
transcript out later which we will release on twitter and our home page, www.csis.org. thank you for coming this morning. [inaudible conversations] >> nice to meet you, thank you. >> couple of events we are covering from the brookings institution to tell you about. the speaker of iran's council of representatives will be in washington to talk about security concerns and political challenges iraq is facing after a recent spike in violence around the country. live coverage at 9 eastern on c-spanat 2. later in the morning also on
c-span2 a panel of journalists, former state department officials will talk about foreign policy recommendations for president obama. that is live at 11:00 eastern. >> did i feel prepared? i really did. i was not elected. it didn't make that difference. i did notice the difference between being the vice president's wife and the president's wife. it was huge because the vice president's wife to say anything, nobody cares. the minute you say one thing as president's like it made the news. that was a lesson i had to learn. pretty quickly. >> watch our program on first lady barbara bush and our web site c-span.org/firstlady or see it saturday at 7:00 eastern and live monday our series continues with first lady hillary clinton.
>> all rise. [laughter] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the meeting will come to order. the oversight committee exists to secure two fundamental principles. first, americans have a right to know the money washington takes from them is well spent and second, americans deserve an efficient, effective government that works for them.
our solemn responsibility is to hold government accountable to taxpayers because taxpayers have a right to know what they get from their government. our job is to work tirelessly in partnership with citizen watchdogs to deliver the facts to the american people and bring genuine reform to the federal raucously. today's hearing strike at the heart of the committee's mission, finding and rooting out waste in the federal government. at the beginning of every session congress holds a hearing to learn from experts about the status of wasteful spending and commit ourselves to eliminating it. much like the fiscal outlook in the past, the hearing today will be grim. grim both because of actual waste and organizational waste. president obama has overseen the highest postwar deficits on
record and last year we had in spite of tax increases that continue to pile up, $680 billion deficit. the american people have a burden on top of the mortgage on their home of $140,000 per home. ville perspective is that this is unsustainable. if your home or going further in debt every year you would ask how long can i tolerate it? and yet in just a few years your home will be a quarter of a million dollars in debt if we do not quickly reverse the waste and unnecessary growth in government. this committee does not appropriate nor do we tax. our committee's responsibility is to find within the authorized missions of the government the kind of waste and inefficiencies that can be a eliminated to deliver to the american people a
better value. reasonable estimates are a better value could save $200 billion of the stockholders's hard earned money. in other words we could eliminate a third of the deficit simply by eliminating known and recognized waste. our first panel today, our partners in the senate. tom coburn, thomas carper, no two people have been willing to speak out about the organizational waste and misspending than these two senators. our second panel will be four individuals who represent organizations that are heavily contributed to the spending reform discussion. first, though we will hear from our senators, it is my great pleasure to welcome my colleagues. tom coburn releases the waste book every year and released this year's chronicles, the kind
of waste that can be e eliminated. and senator thomas carper has been a good partner in this discussion. i look forward to their hearings and remind my colleagues that any questioning, any further comments after their opening statements will be finished question to the senators and i take pleasure in introducing the ranking member for his opening statement. >> thank you, i am very pleased you called this hearing today. this is a bread-and-butter of what our committee does and i hope today's hearing will further this important discussion which we have had regularly in similar hearings over the last two -- few years. thanks to the witnesses for taking time out of their busy schedules to be with us today to participate in this hearing the. i am delighted ranking member tom coburn has joined us at our first hearing this year to help
set the tone for rooting out government waste. i want to say to you i have seen your reports and i agree with many issues you identified. this may be one of the last opportunities to work together before your retirement. i look forward to effective and rewarding collaboration and i thank you not only for your service to your constituents but your service to our nation. i also appreciate that you agreed to my request to invite the chairman thomas carper tiexiera his thoughts and views with us as well. chairman thomas carper has been tireless in his efforts to make federal agencies work efficiently. senators thomas carper and tom coburn have been at the forefront of legislation that has resulted in billions of dollars in savings from the
federal government. today we have a unique opportunity. we have in a room a chairman and ranking member of the senate, homeland security and government affairs committee, also chairman, ranking member and additional members of the house committee on oversight and government reform. these are the two key committees that are responsible for reducing waste, fraud and abuse in our government. i propose we use some of our time today to set a bicameral agenda for the coming year. although we have relatively little time remaining in this congress i propose we try to identify some of the top reform proposals we will achieve on a bipartisan basis. let's begin with a process to identify issues on which we have common ground and save taxpayers billions of dollars going forward. the government accountability
office's annual high risk list, programs report, give us a critical tool for focusing our oversight efforts. the inspector general recommendations are another key we can examine. then of course we have proposals from groups like those here today. one agency that comes up repeatedly every single year, virtually every single report, the department of defense. this makes sense because it is the largest federal agency, department financial management as a whole continues to be designated high risk. the dod has not been able to control costs, to ensure basic financial accountability, measure performance, prepare financial statements, prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse. it would be a big step in the
right direction for dod to produce for the first time an hon. financial statement. dod has experienced significant problems with management and oversight of $365 billion obligated for contracts last year alone. the congressional research service reports dod programs have experienced poor performance against the backdrop of war in afghanistan, spiraling contract costs and crime in the size of the acquisition work force. dot also leads the federal government with waste, fraud investments. i know this is something the chairman is interested in. in testimony before the committee last year. g a o warned several dod investments experienced significant performance problems and were at high risk. one specific example was a contract the air force canceled
in december of 2012 after spending $1 billion on expeditionary combat support system. despite these and other examples of waste some progress is being made the we should be proud of. finally president obama made it a priority to reduce improper payments when he took office. improper payments have been reduced from $125 billion in 2010 to $106 billion in 2013 but that is still not good enough. chairman thomas carper and ranking member tom coburn have been active with legislation on this topic and i hope darrell issa and i can partner with you going forward and financial management and government agencies for example the department of homeland security as obtained a clean audit of its financial statement for the first time in the agency's ten year history. this committee has been improving financial management and it is good to see positive
results from continued oversight. moving forward we have to continue this progress by conducting our oversight efforts in a sustained, dedicated and bipartisan manner. is not enough for us to convene hearings and hope for the best. we need to work cooperatively and diligently to find tangible solutions to minimize government waste and maximize efficiency. ..