House lawmakers urge budget boost for air marshals

A group of congressional lawmakers believes the Federal Air Marshal Service needs a budget hike to keep pace with a projected surge in air travel and expanded security missions.

In a March 25 letter to House appropriators, Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and 14 House Democrats urged more funding for FAMS, which received $613 million in the Bush administration's fiscal 2005 budget, a $13 million cut from 2004 funding levels.

Without more funds, FAMS may be unable to help foreign governments develop their own air marshal programs, the lawmakers warned. Federal air marshals only fly on U.S.-based airlines.

"New FAMS initiatives, such as training to assist foreign governments in the establishment or enhancement of their own air marshal programs, could help reduce the likelihood of disruptions to international air travel when intelligence suggests that specific flights are being targeted by terrorists," the lawmakers wrote. David Adams, a FAMS spokesman, said the service supports the administration's budget proposal. According to Adams, the service has shared best practices with foreign governments and is exploring the possibility of offering training to foreign air marshals. FAMS also will host an international air marshal conference later this year.

Besides financing new programs, FAMS needs more funds to match an expected increase in air travel, the lawmakers said. Citing predictions from the Federal Aviation Administration, they said domestic flights would increase by more than 3 percent in fiscal 2005, while the number of international flights will go up by more than 5 percent during the same period.

To augment its staff, FAMS has begun training criminal investigators in the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, its parent agency, to serve as air marshals. In an interview with Government Executive last month, Thomas Quinn, director of FAMS, said the majority of ICE's 5,500 agents would receive air marshal training.

"It's not going to be limited to a specific small number of ICE agents; it's essentially going to be the majority of the organization over time," he said. Quinn added that FAMS would train at least 100 ICE agents as air marshals by the end of March.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.