Massive Waste at DHS, Says Report

By Matthew Harwood

The Department of Homeland Security has once again come under scrutiny for its performance over the past five years, reports The Huffington Post.

This time a private watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), says its new report "details billions of dollars in waste and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars." The report, Homeland Security for Sale - DHS: Five Years of Mismanagement, compiles a list of failed DHS projects. The most egregious examples of failed initiatives and wasteful spending highlighted by CREW include:

  • The Coast Guard's Deepwater Program in which $24 billion has been spent and at least $178 million wasted.
  • $600 million has been allocated for radiation detectors that the group says are "unworkable."
  • $1.3 billion has been spent on the never fully implemented US-VISIT program
  • a $2 billion projected loss on the SBInet "virtual fence" border program

"The Department of Homeland Security is an embarrassment that would be comical if only our national security were not at stake," said CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan. "The agency and its leadership must be held accountable for its failures and pushed to do better."

Recently, DHS' own inspector general released its semiannual report to Congress which said DHS could spend its money "more wisely." gives a tight summary of what the report said:

During the second half of fiscal 2007, the Homeland Security Department spent more than $12 million without proper documentation and could have spent another $26 million more wisely, according to a semiannual report to Congress from DHS’ Office of the Inspector General.

And to make matters worse for DHS, today's Wall Street Journal reports Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday to delay Boeing Co.'s high-tech border surveillance system for the Arizona-Mexico border.

According to WSJ, Thompson's letter:

... cited continuing concerns by the committee that problems with the virtual-fence system known as Project 28 aren't fixed. The committee also is concerned that the effort doesn't give agents the technological advantages Boeing has promised.

Further delay of a project already almost six months behind could set back the credibility of both the effort and of Boeing. It also signals a determination by lawmakers to keep a sharp eye on how Homeland Security buys from the defense industry.

The project has been plagued with vexing software issues and problems getting cameras and radar to work in concert. The radar also had trouble working correctly in the rain, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Boeing's project is part of a larger effort estimated to cost taxpayers at least $8 billion through 2013, although the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general has warned the costs could triple.

Thompson did not mince words during the close of his letter, telling Chertoff he did not appreciate the "lack of candor" regarding Project 28 and that "credibility, once lost, is unlikely ever to be regained."





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