Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs


Senator Collins is one of Congress’s most respected voices on homeland security issues.  She has a long record of accomplishments in strengthening our homeland security against terrorist attacks and natural disasters, including:

Reforming national intelligence:  Senator Collins coauthored the historic Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention legislation, which was signed into law in 2004.  Her work, which created the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counter Terrorism Center, represented the most sweeping changes to our intelligence community in more than 50 years and implements many of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission to improve coordination among our intelligence agencies and help prevent future terrorist attacks.

Strengthening cybersecurity:  Along with Senator Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT), Senator Collins is a principal author of bipartisan legislation to protect the U.S. from a cyber attack.  The FBI Director has argued that we should be addressing the cyber threat with the same intensity we have applied to the terrorist threat, and Senator Collins agrees.  Her bill would help to protect our critical infrastructure, such as our air traffic control system, electric grid, and water treatment systems, by having owners of these most vital systems meet reasonable security requirements developed in collaboration with industry. The bill would also improve the sharing of information with the private sector and would enhance the security of the government’s own computer networks.  In doing so, it would safeguard billions of dollars per year and millions of American jobs.

Addressing homegrown terrorism:  Senator Collins has sounded the alarm about the growing number of homegrown terrorist plots, in some cases by “lone wolf” self-radicalized individuals, and in others by those who had direct contact with al Qaeda affiliates.  She has worked with Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) to hold more than a dozen hearings on the subject and to investigate the 2009 attack on Fort Hood.  Their investigation revealed that the Defense Department and the FBI collectively had sufficient information to have detected Major Nidal Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism, but failed to act effectively on the many red flags signaling that he had become a potential threat.  Senators Collins and Lieberman have also pressed successfully for a national strategy on homegrown terrorism and the designation of a lead official at the Department of Homeland Security to address this threat.

Improving disaster response:  After observing the poor response at all levels of government, especially by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Senator Collins led a thorough investigation of our national system for preparing for and responding to disasters.  As a result, Senators Collins and Lieberman coauthored legislation that reorganized FEMA within the Department of Homeland Security.  Among other major reforms, the law reunites FEMA’s preparedness and response capabilities to meet the challenges of all aspects of emergency management.

Preventing attacks through ports:  More than 11 million cargo containers entered American ports last year, and Senator Collins has worked to prevent attacks through those ports.  The steady flow of shipping containers creates opportunities for “Trojan Horse” operations that might smuggle explosives, toxins, weapons, or even terrorists into America’s busy ports.  Senator Collins has partnered with Senator Murray (D-WA) to renew legislation they coauthored in 2006 that significantly strengthens port security with improved cargo-screening standards, incentives for importers to enhance their security measures, and inspection of high-risk cargo containers at ports overseas before they travel to the United States.

Preventing attacks on chemical facilities:  America’s thousands of facilities that manufacture, store, or use hazardous chemicals are economically vital, but could expose thousands or even millions of people to risk if attacked by terrorists.  The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act, authored by Senator Collins, directs the Department of Homeland Security to conduct vulnerability assessments, establish security standards, and require plans and drills at high-risk chemical facilities.  Senator Collins is working to pass bipartisan legislation to continue and improve this critical security program.

Supporting First Responders:  Senator Collins has championed efforts to renew programs designed to enhance the ability of fire departments to protect the public from fires and other hazards.  Known as the FIRE and SAFER grants, these programs help protect the health and safety of the public and firefighters by offering competitive grants directly to fire departments, emergency medical services organizations, and other groups.  Since 2001, more than $61 million has been awarded to Maine’s first responders under the FIRE and SAFER grant programs.


Saving the U.S. Postal Service:  The U.S. Postal Service is the linchpin of a mailing industry that employs more than 8 million people and annually generates almost $1 trillion in economic activity.  Nearly 38,000 Mainers work in jobs related to the mailing industry, ranging from paper manufacturers to printers to catalog companies and newspapers.  Senator Collins has coauthored bipartisan legislation, along with Senators Lieberman, Tom Carper (D-DE), and Scott Brown (R-MA), to help the Postal Service reduce operating costs, modernize its business model, and innovate to generate new revenue.  Absent action, there is a real risk that the Postal Service will not be able to make its payroll in the months ahead.  Senator Collins’ bipartisan bill would put the Postal Service on a sustainable path.

Keeping politics out of government contracting:  Senator Collins has been working to protect the integrity of the federal contracting process, so the government has the tools and services necessary to carry out its mission and American taxpayers get the best value.  She has worked tirelessly to stop a White House draft proposal to require federal agencies to collect information about campaign contributions and political expenditures of bidders before awarding any federal contract.   Senator Collins introduced legislation to forbid this practice and successfully included language in the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that prohibits this proposal from being implemented by the Pentagon.  Senator Collins believes no possible good can come from linking political information to a process which must be grounded solidly and unequivocally on providing the very best value to American taxpayers.  

Holding Congress accountable:  Senators Collins and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) led efforts to pass the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, originally introduced by Senator Scott Brown (R-MA).  The bipartisan bill, which was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate, affirms that Members of Congress are not exempt from our laws prohibiting insider trading.  Senator Collins believes strongly that elective office is a place for public service, not private gain.

Stopping improper payments:  Senator Collins has consistently highlighted shoddy bookkeeping and lax oversight that have resulted in improper payments across the federal government.  Unfortunately, by some estimates, more than a nickel of every taxpayer dollar has been spent either in error or as a result of fraud. 

Senator Collins has co-authored several bills to make the government more accountable.  Her most recent legislation, with Senator Carper, would require all federal agencies to identify programs that could be ripe for improper payments and act to prevent and recover such payments.  The bill would establish a “do-not-pay list” using different databases across the government, to identify people and organizations we should not pay – including the deceased, individuals who are making too much money to receive government benefits, and ineligible contractors– before the payment is made. 

Uncovering Flaws in the Energy Star Program:  At Senator Collins’ request, in 2010, the Government Accountability Office conducted an investigation into the Energy Star program.  This report found the program was unreliable and vulnerable to fraud. 

The GAO formed four fake companies that created 20 bogus energy-efficient products, several of them outrageous on their face. Of the 20 fictitious products, 15 were granted Energy Star status by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, which jointly run the program. Of the four fake companies, all were named Energy Star partners by the federal agencies.  When products aren’t fully tested and still earn the “Energy Star” seal of approval, the American taxpayers carry the heaviest burden for this failed oversight.

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