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  • Chaotic Security Oversight Costs Taxpayers Money

    According to a recent AP story, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “answered 11,580 letters, gave 2,058 briefings, and sent 232 witnesses to 166 hearings” in 2009.

    The time it took for DHS to answer all these congressional inquiries is so great that it can’t be measured in hours, days, or even weeks. Rather, in 2009 alone, DHS officials apparently spent an equivalent of 66 work years responding to these congressional requests. If those numbers didn’t have your head spinning already, the total cost to U.S. taxpayers for all these efforts was roughly $10 million.

    The reason for this vast expenditure of time and energy is the sprawling system of congressional oversight put upon DHS. DHS is subject to oversight from a total of 108 congressional committees, subcommittees, and caucuses. To put this in perspective, that is approximately four times as many committees and subcommittees as those that have authority over both the Departments of State and Justice combined. Even the Department of Defense—with a budget 10 times greater than DHS’s and millions more employees—answers to only 36 congressional committees and subcommittees.

    To be fair, the current system of congressional oversight is a symptom of the manner in which the DHS was created. DHS combined 22 previously separate agencies under a single umbrella. Rather than consolidate congressional oversight of all these agencies at the same time, congressional leadership chose to leave oversight of various activities of DHS with each of the original committees.

    Yet, over time, as DHS has matured into a more unified and permanent body, congressional oversight hasn’t lessened. Instead it has grown from 86 committees and subcommittees to 108. This overbearing web of oversight not only causes a tremendous drain of resources and strain on DHS’s workload, but it results in muddled and often contradictory congressional guidance.

    In 2004, the 9/11 Commission first recognized this problem, calling for Congress to cut oversight and form “a single, principal point of oversight and review.” Last year, we at The Heritage Foundation released our own plan to consolidate homeland security. In it we call for streamlining congressional oversight over DHS into only six committees—three each in the House and the Senate. Adding in seven subcommittees to each of the two newly created homeland security committees, our plan would reduce the sprawling system of congressional oversight from 108 committees and subcommittees to a mere 20.

    How many more years do we need to wait? It’s time that Congress stop ignoring the problem and give credence to the idea of reform.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Chaotic Security Oversight Costs Taxpayers Money

    1. Bobbie says:

      when the private sector is incompetent or wasteful, THEY pay for it. Take the costs out of the incompetents' tax paid wages, remove and reduce the budget.

    2. Carolyn Thomson, Nor says:

      I was amazed and bewildered to read on the front page of our Friday Tribe-Review that the Heritage Foundation had awarded its highest honor, the Claire Booth Luce Award, to Richard Scaife, owner of the paper. As conservatives in our area know, Mr. Scaife is not a conservative, but rather, a liberterian, having views "all over the board." During the last Presidential campaign, he wrote an editorial in support of Hillary Clinton and endorsed John Murtha for another term in Congress.

      On February 27th, 2011, he wrote an editorial in which he defended Planned Parenthood and its funding by the federal government and expressed his admiration for Margaret Sanger who was a friend of his mother. Any conservative who has done his homework knows that the main purpose for which Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood was to eliminate Negoes and Jews whom she referred to as "weeds." The pro-life community was up in arms and sent a barrage of letters to the paper in protest to Mr. Scaife's editorial. I can't believe that this is the type of person whom you honored. How could he be in the same company as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and others who have gotten this award?

      My husband and I have always respected and admired the Heritage Foundation and the good work that you do, but this time, you made a terrible mistake!

    3. George Colgrove, VA says:

      This much oversight is a clue. Not even congress trust the DHS yet alone the rest of America. DHS was a fly-by-night emotional knee kerk reaction to 9/11 and was not thought out too well. It houses the dregs of federal workers – people who state legislators have to write equivalent laws to protect the people from both sexual preditors and TSA agents.

      DHS can be disbanded by:

      - Returning the Coast Guard back to the DoD/Marines where it belongs. A civilian wing of the Marines with overisght of the states governors to work which will work hand in hand with the National Guard for border protection. All police activities return back to local police.

      - TSA (eliminate) Return duty back to local contractors that airports hire.

      - Immigration/customs can go to the Sec. of States office.

      - FEMA/Border control – eliminate federal program as it is ineffective anyway and return function back to the states with the predominate amount of workd going to the National guard as a states run program

      - Set up an emergency fund with state governor oversight. Money to be handed out to only when an Emergency has been declaired. Administered by the states.

      - Secret Service – consolidate all federal police into a single federal police program – preferably just let the states deal with ALL police work. Secret Service in the sense of protecting the president should be a white house function and funded under teh White House budget.

      Without the DHS, there need not be so much oversight over probably the most inept and criminally corrupt federal department in DC. Consider this, the former Bush appointed director of DHS is now making millions off his lobying work to get the DNA scramblers (i.e image scanners) in every American Airport. What has all this overight accomplished anyways?

    4. Tim Az says:

      George Is correct A govt. agency that receives over 11,000 letters of inquiries is a demonstration that DHS cannot be trusted to serve the peoples interest. DHS needs to go we can't afford to baby sit a govt. agency that is constantly into mischief let alone fund them.

    5. Slick in Nebraska says:

      While I understand the need for Federal departments like the CIA and the FBI to communicate, especially when it comes to intelligence, anyone with half a brain had to realize that the net result of creating one massive monster with hundreds of tenacles is that NO ONE will know what is going on! And unlike what happens in the private sector where the CEO or the leader of a company is responsible for what happens to that company, the Department heads in Washington are like bobble-headed dolls that only know how to say, "I don't know; I don't know; I don't know."

      The perfect example of lack of accountability is the person in charge of the inspections for oil wells. When it was found that employees were watching porn and playing video games, etc instead of doing the actual inspections, the net result was NOT someone loosing their job. No, the net result was more regulations placed on oil companies which NO ONE will enforce!!!!!

      And if you don't think that is a problem, what about the guns being bought in the US and shipped back to Mexico, all with SOMEBODY'S blessing! But if you want to know who is responsible for this program in the first place, good luck! Because nobody is going to own up to this "brain child" and unfortunately those program designers will live to inflict their hair-brained ideas onto yet another group of Americans on another day!

      Take the TSA. When a majority of our terror threats were coming from OUTSIDE the US, why would we concentrate our efforts and our resources on people inside this country getting onto airplanes? BECAUSE no one wanted to take on the hard task of revising our VISA program, our work permit program, and all other programs that allow foreigners to come to this country and then never leave because NO ONE is watching! Instead of fixing what is broken, they just create a new problem. "Garbage in = garbage out!!!"

      So because the citizens of this country demand SOME form of action, the government's solution is to remove more and more rights from law abiding citizens and take over every aspect of our lives: phones, emails, tracking devices, black boxes on vehicles, special identification to enter the ports . . . . the list is just endless!

      George is right . . . we need to start eliminating the "massive tumors" in our government that are going to end up killing us!

    6. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      George, you have several good points that should be looked into for a more in depth analysis focused on obtaining optimal measurable results.

      The U. S. Coast Guard was under the Department of Transportation for decades probably due to their safety enforcement and law enforcement roles relative to smuggling, piracy and to assist with customs enforcement. If I remember correctly due to their routine law enforcement role more Coast Guardsmen have federal arrest authority than other services and due to a law (or rule) called “posse commutates” they cannot be included in the DOD. That rule or law prevents active duty military forces from enforcing the laws of the land. In other words, you can’t take an Infantry unit, set up checkpoints and arrest civilians in local towns and municipalities in America.

      There is a caveat that in times of declared war they will be assessed into the regular Navy in comparable specialties and provided additional necessary training if and when that decision is made. Based upon the state of affairs relative to terrorism, drug and people smuggling involving organized crime I don’t see them being assessed into the regular Navy anytime soon.

      However, since the magnitude of the terrorism problem and the associated organized crime issues concerning drugs, people and serving as a conduit for terrorists to get into America the size of the Coast Guard should have been increased several times since 9/11 and they should have been more aggressively armed to effectively to deal with these emerging situations.

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