Department of Homeland Security - efficient bureaucratic behemoth or costly edifice

March 2nd, 2011 - 5:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar.2 (ANI): A recent Gallup poll has found 56 percent of Americans opposing cuts to spending on homeland security programs with 42 percent in favor. By comparison, 61 percent oppose cuts to medicare.The above figures tell a story. Eight years after its creation to counter a possible repeat of 9/11. the Department of Homeland Security has grown into a bureaucratic behemoth, having the second-largest combined workforce behind the Department of Defense and a budget of 57 billion dollars requested for fiscal year 2012.

The department now leads the effort to prevent and disrupt terror attacks, screen airline passengers and cargo across the country, combat the sex trafficking of children, and patrol the borders and cyberspace, among many other duties.

Officials say despite the broad range of responsibilities and steep start up costs, the agency’s work is paying off and getting more efficient every day.

“Our nation is more secure than it was two years ago, and more secure than when DHS was founded,” ABC News quoted its Secretary, Janet Napolitano, as writing in a blog post to mark the anniversary.

Napolitano has heralded recent improvements in administrative efficiency, saving taxpayers close to a billion dollars, and reduced reliance on outside contractors by 11 percent, or 420 million dollars.

But some Republicans say the Department of Homeland Security has not done enough to reign in costs and curb its incremental growth. They believe now is the time to make cuts at the agency for the first time in its history.

Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul wants to cut the DHS budget by 43 percent, transferring the Coast Guard to the Department of Defense, privatizing more of the work currently done by TSA, and trimming remaining spending to 2008 levels.

Those steep cuts haven’t gained traction with many lawmakers. Some have proposed smaller reductions to key DHS priorities, including border security.

The House GOP budget approved last month would slash an estimated 600 million dollars for border security and immigration enforcement from the DHS budget for the remainder of this fiscal year.

“We cannot continue down this path of having double- and triple-digit spending increases on government agencies,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of the bill.

“No matter how popular sounding these programs are, they mortgage our children’s future and they compromise our economic growth today,” he added.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that the DHS has largely proven it is not inclined towards pet projects and abuses of discretionary funds that have characterized military spending. (ANI)

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