The Department of Homeland Waste

The Department of Homeland Security was formed to bring 22 separate government agencies under a single organization in order to better direct their missions and increase interagency communication. Unfortunately this new agency has not bucked the trend of big government in Washington D.C. and has wasted billions of dollars of taxpayers money with little accountability, apparently lining it’s own employees pockets all the while. Couple this ongoing waste with the Obama administration’s lack of transparency and you have a recipe for rampant unaccountability.

A recent report from the department’s inspector general that the $430 million radio system the department has deployed was only usable by 1 of 479 surveyed employees. Additionally only 20 percent of the radios were even able to access the shared channel they were designed to implement. In response to the report’s recommendation that DHS overhauls the office overseeing the radio system DHS liaison Jim H. Crumpacker wrote, “DHS believes that it has already established a structure with the necessary authority to ensure” that its various agencies can communicate. A preposterous assertion when only one person surveyed can even use the communication equipment correctly. The fact that the agency doesn’t even seem concerned that it can’t accomplish one of it’s founding goals is a warning sign to all Americans.

This isn’t the first time the DHS has been found to be spending millions of dollars with diminishing returns. In 2006 the New York Times reported that more than 9,000 employees had spent at least $420 million dollars on government issued credit cards. Some of these expenditures include 2000 unused dog boots, a beer brewing system, $7,000 in iPods, and $2,492 in rain jackets for use at a firing range that closes when it rains. Another credit card bought boats for $208,000 at twice the retail value, maybe someone got cash back?

Looking at the budget requirements of the DHS highlights the built in waste the department is underwriting. Compared to the FBI the DHS budgets approximately $27,000 more per employee. With 240,000 employees this amounts to $6.4 billion of the department’s $60.4 billion budget. Compare this to the Texas Department of Safety and you see an increase of $110,000 in per employee budgeting. The New York Police Department operates at $130,000 less per employee than the DHS. How does a department that has consolidated the resources of 22 agencies spend more money than single departments not less?

In the time span of the DHS founding in 2002 to 2010, the DHS increased contracting from $3.4 billion to $14 billion according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies. These massive expenditures are coupled with the fact that a congressional report in 2008 found that the DHS had spent a whopping $15 billion on failed contracts, a number so large that it could fund the FBI for 2 full years.

According to the DHS independent auditor KPMG:

“KPMG was unable to express an opinion on the department’s balance sheets as of September 30, 2010 and 2009, and the related statements of custodial activity for the years then ended. DHS was unable to represent that certain financial statement balances were correct and was unable to provide sufficient evidence to support its financial statement”

The DHS is so incapable of keeping track of the money it spends auditors were unable to verify the department’s accounting statements. KPMG goes on to list six significant deficiencies in DHS accounting and six laws and regulations that the DHS is violating. The DHS has become a caricature of government waste and it’s leadership accepts no responsibility to American taxpayers to correct these deficiencies.

This is just another example of unaccountable federal agencies burning through money that we are borrowing to spend. The DHS has been given a blank check and has thus far shown itself to be as responsible as a teenager with a credit card. Still there are people in our government who claim that hard working Americans should be paying more to deal with our budget problems. How can we afford to give our federal government more money when it refuses to be held accountable for the billions it’s already wasted?