NCUA to Pay $1.2M for Secret Room
The NCUA is preparing for the installation of a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility at its headquarters in Alexandria, Va., which will cost more than $1.2 million.
The agency said legislation and executive orders required the agency to construct such a facility.
According to NCUA Public Affairs Specialist John Fairbanks, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, signed by President George W. Bush, granted the authority to define uniform standards and procedures for access to sensitive compartmented information.
Fairbanks also cited an executive order which Bush signed in 2007 that established a program for the survival and continuation of federal operations during a national security emergency.
“There are eight designated national essential functions; the NCUA has a role in one, ‘protecting and stabilizing the nation's economy and ensuring public confidence in its financial systems,’” Fairbanks said. “Critical to carrying out this responsibility is the ability to keep information safe and communicate securely with other federal agencies.”
Fairbanks further cited an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, which declared the federal government must have the ability to communicate under all circumstances.
“Survivable, resilient, enduring and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: The legislative and judicial branches; state, local, territorial, and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies, and other nations,” the executive order said.
Fairbanks said the NCUA is currently in negotiations with a vendor and does not yet have a deadline for completion of its facility.
The NCUA Board approved $1.2 million in its FY 2014 budget for the project. The mid-year budget, which was approved on July 31, included $170,000 for other security enhancements partially related to the SCIF.
Fairbanks said SCIF won't just be used during national emergencies. The facility will also be used on a regular and recurring basis, as NCUA staff with appropriate clearances need to be able to engage in secure communications with other federal agencies, including other regulators and law enforcement, during the normal course of agency business.
“Do we support something like this? Well, we can argue the cost of it. We can say it costs too much,” Board Member Michael Fryzel said after the July board meeting. “We were told we have to do it; therefore, we have to move ahead with it. I don't like the cost of it.”
Fryzel said the budget for the facility could rise in the future. “There may be additional things required based on the security necessary for that type of room which again could increase the budget but hopefully not,” the outgoing board member added.