Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would strike funding for the National Drug Intelligence Center and reduce the cost of the bill by a commensurate amount. This is not the first time I have come to the floor to try to strike funding for the NDIC, but this is the first time I have tried to come and strike this earmark when it was requested by the President. In times past, the earmark was requested by another Member of Congress, but this time the President has taken it up.
After years of trying to close down this entity, the administration has decided that they want to keep it. It has been described by the previous administration as duplicative and ineffective. I think that just about every report we have seen on this center has said that. It is a considerable amount of money, I believe $44 million. We should be saving that.
According to the administration officials, by including funding for the NDIC in his budget request, the President helped to establish the Department of Justice as the NDIC's permanent funding source. In this case, I think ``permanent'' is a troubling word, particularly when it regards the NDIC.
Reportedly, this shift will also change the NDIC's name to the Center For Strategic Excellence. As Shakespeare once wrote, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. I submit that the metaphor remains true, only it is not the perfume of roses that we smell here with the NDIC.
The NDIC was established in 1993 and has been the recipient of more than 350 million taxpayer dollars in the 15 years it has been in existence. Despite all the money and time, the NDIC, according to the previous administration, ``has proven ineffective in achieving its assigned mission.''
Now, we all expect the Obama administration to disagree with many determinations by the Bush administration, but the criticism of the NDIC extends beyond the previous administration. A report by the GAO issued shortly after the NDIC's opening way back in 1993 cited 19 other drug intelligence centers that already existed whose functions [Page: H6964]
the NDIC duplicates. So it is not just the previous administration. Long before that, we have recognized that this is
money that should and could be saved if we would close down this center.
As reported in The Hill on May 14, a review by OMB agreed. They concluded that NDIC's efforts were duplicative of those of the other intelligence agencies.
In 2006 a spokesman for DOJ asserted that the resources for the NDIC should be ``realigned to support priority counterterrorism and national security initiatives.''
Mr. Chairman, this is a center begging to be shut down. I don't need to remind anybody here of the problems we are having fiscally. We are running the biggest deficit we have ever run, we have public debt that is just astounding, we have unfunded liabilities that should make us all shudder, and we simply can't keep a center like this open for tens of millions of dollars a year that has been called duplicative and ineffective. So I think that this is an amendment that should pass.
We are not targeting, as I mentioned, any Member earmark this time. This is the President's earmark. And part of the role of Congress, one that we have not done well, is to police the administration and to look at what they are allocating and earmarking for.
With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, I'm often told we shouldn't be challenging Member earmarks. We shouldn't be challenging them because we ought to be going after those faceless bureaucrats and the things that the administration proposes that we don't look at enough. And I agree, certainly.
So here's a case where the administration, not just the previous administration, but administrations before that have said this is duplicative. It's a center in search of a mission, and it ought to be shut down. You could save $44 million a year. And yet we won't do it. If we're not going to shut down a center like this, where are we going to cut?
Let me just quote, according to the Department of Justice Budget and Performance Summary for Fiscal Year 2010: ``The most significant challenge for NDIC currently is its lack of a permanent funding source.''
Now, think of that for a minute. If that's the biggest challenge they've got, not, you know, finding a strategic mission or way to aid in our drug control effort, but is finding a permanent funding source. That seems to be their mission. And from what we know, that may be mission accomplished now, because the President is seeking to put it under DOJ where it will remain permanently.
But we in Congress, it's our role, part of our oversight function is to ensure that money is not wasted by those, I'm always told, faceless bureaucrats. Here's a perfect example of where we can make a difference, where we can save money, and we ought to do it.
I reserve the balance of my time.
The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.