Homeland Security Priorities Apparent in Budget

Two years after its formation, the Department of Homeland has a firmer grip on its priorities.

by Alan S. Brown

Two years ago, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) came into existence in what the Bush administration has called the largest governmental reorganization in 60 years. It pulled together 22 different government agencies and administrations, all with clear missions and procedures that often conflicted with one another.

Even as agencies fought for roles in the new department, the DHS inner circle dropped, moved and consolidated existing programs and even restarted some formerly dead initiatives to place more emphasis on the terrorist threat. As it did, it developed a clearer strategy of how it would achieve such an amorphous goal as domestic preparedness.

Budget Priorities

Nothing delineates those priorities more clearly than the DHS budget. At $40.2 billion, the FY 2005 budget is 10 percent higher than a year ago and 29 percent higher than FY 2003. In addition to enhancing state and local responder capabilities, priorities include bioterrorism, port, border and aviation security as well as improved immigration enforcement.

Border and Port Security. Each year, more than 500 million people, 130 million vehicles, 2.5 million railcars and 5.7 million cargo containers cross the border into the United States. This year, DHS has pumped $411 million in additional funding to improve cargo screening in high-risk areas, detect aliens attempting to enter the country illegally and improve maritime security. Key programs include:

  • Container Security Initiative (CSI) – CSI prescreens containers before they leave foreign ports. DHS has already launched the first two phases, which prescreen containers at ports based on volume, location and threat. This year's budget of $126 million continues the program and adds a third phase to enhance security at high-risk ports.
  • US-VISIT – DHS will spend $340 million to take fingerprints and photos of visitors at 115 airports and 14 seaports. The second phase will include technology to match those identifiers upon exit.
  • Aerial Surveillance and Sensors – DHS will spend $64.2 million on land-based systems, $28 million for manned aircraft flights and $12.5 million for long-range radar. It plans to use new technology to help 12,000 border patrol agents detect illegal entries and drug shipments over land and water. It will spend $20.6 million on software to identify high-risk cargo and passengers.
  • Radiation Detection – DHS will spend $80 million for devices to screen incoming cargo, passengers, subways, tunnels and other high-value targets for nuclear and radiation-based weapons.
  • Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) – Since 2001, nearly 3,000 importers, 600 carriers and 1,000 middlemen have signed up to secure shipments.

Coast Guard – A 9 percent budget increase to $6.3 billion will enable to Coast Guard to review and improve port security plans and to begin to replace its old, costly-to-maintain fleet.

Chemical and Biological Weapons. Over the past year, DHS has improved its ability to detect and respond to chemical, nuclear, radiological and biological terror. Among its key initiatives:

  • Project Bioshield – This year, DHS will spend $2.5 billion – up $1.4 billion – to prepurchase vaccines and medications for the Strategic National Stockpile. The program, which is administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is especially interested in purchasing next-generation smallpox, anthrax and other vaccines. DHS wants the Department of Health and Human Services to take over funding next year.
  • Biosurveillance – DHS has begun monitoring the air in more than 30 U.S. cities for possible biological agents. This year it will boost spending to $118 million, from $53 million, to develop and deploy next-generation sensors. It will spend an additional $11 million to analyze hospital, medical and agricultural data for patterns that might indicate a biological attack in its earliest stages.
  • National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will spend $20 million on exercises to strengthen the federal medical response to major emergencies.

Aviation Security. Through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), DHS has federalized more than 45,000 security guards and added more than 7,000 new screening devices at the nation's 429 commercial airports. This year, TSA's budget will grow by $679 million to $5.1 billion. Major programs include:

  • Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) – In 2004, DHS made FAMS part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), enabling marshals to rotate between flight and field assignments. The FAMS budget rises $50 million to $663 million.
  • Credentialing – TSA will spend $92 million to develop credentialing programs for transportation workers, aliens enrolling in flight schools, hazardous materials transporters and individuals seeking to participate in the Registered Traveler Program.
  • Aviation Security Capital Fund – TSA plans to spend $475 million on more secure baggage conveyer systems and explosive detection systems.
  • Air Cargo Security – The TSA budget includes $115 million to research and deploy new air cargo screening technology and to add new cargo inspectors.
  • Missile Defense – TSA will spend $61 million to fund prototype systems that can thwart surface-to-air missile attacks on passenger jets.

Immigration. DHS seeks to control overseas entry visas, people who try to slip through our borders and aliens who are here illegally. The ICE budget will rise $179 million this year. Among its key components:

  • Detention/Removal – In a major shift, ICE will spend $123 million more to apprehend, detain and remove illegal aliens. It will also expand detention facilities so it does not have to rely on local jails.
  • Enforcement – DHS will spend $56 million more to detect immigration law violators through closer workplace inspections and cooperation with U.S. consular offices to review visa applications.
  • Immigration Backlog – Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) will spend $160 million in FY 2005 as part of a $500 million program to slash immigration application waits to 6 months while improving security checks prior to arrival.

Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP). IAIP's budget will rise 7 percent to $894 million in FY 2005 to integrate homeland security information from a variety of different sources. Key provisions:

  • Threat Determination/Assessment – DHS is investing in both human analysts and software tools that will enable it to integrate massive amounts of data into knowledge that can help protect vulnerable infrastructure.
  • Cybersecurity – DHS plans a $2.1 million increase to $67.4 million for the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), which helps coordinate cyberincident preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

First Responder Funding. DHS originally planned an 18 percent cutback to $3.6 billion for the Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP), which funds state and local first responder grants. Congress raised it to $4 billion. DHS uses a formula that allocates money based on population to direct funding to urban and coastal areas.

Formula Grants – ODP administers $1.5 billion in emergency preparedness grants based on state population. Grants include $400 million for law enforcement and $180 million in "all hazards" Emergency Management Performance Grants.

  • Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) – Although DHS originally requested $1.45 billion in UASI grants, it was eventually funded at $885 million. The budget earmarks $315 million for transportation security, including $150 million for port security grants and $150 million for rail and transit security grants.
  • Firefighters – Congress fought to boost funding to $715 million, from the DHS request for $500 million, and to retain the program's all-hazards focus in the face of growing calls to emphasize homeland security threats. The bill includes $65 million for hiring.
  • Preparedness – The budget calls for DHS to establish first responder preparedness levels in January 2005 and release the National Preparedness Goal in March 2005.

Preparedness and Response. The $3.1 billion for the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate supports FEMA programs to prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from natural and man-made disasters and subsidizes the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center. Key components include:

  • Disaster Relief Fund – The $2 billion Disaster Relief Fund pays for state response and recovery from such natural disasters as well as terrorist strikes.
  • National Incident Management System (NIMS) – Congress more than doubled the original $15 million DHS request to develop NIMS-related training, publications and guidance. It will also finance a national resource management system to catalog federal response assets and develop a national credentialing system.

Departmental Infrastructure. Any agency that has been cobbled together from so many disparate parts must spend money to create its own infrastructure and systems. The buget includes $65.1 million to consolidate functions at its new headquarters and $133.5 million to implement a new human resources system.

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