Unexpectedly Intriguing!
26 May 2016

Following up our discussion of the priorities of the TSA (a.k.a. the Transportation Security Administration), we thought it might be worth looking at the priorities of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as measured by how it directed the money it was authorized to spend over the past 10 years.

The chart below visualizes what we found in the DHS' own Budget in Brief documents for each year from the U.S. government's 2007 fiscal year (beginning on 1 October 2007) through the projected end of the current 2016 fiscal year (ending 30 September 2016). We've ranked the spending by major organization within the DHS from lowest to highest as of FY2016. The values in the chart are given in thousands of U.S. dollars.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Total Budget Authority by Organization, FY2007 to FY2016

Since Fiscal Year 2007, the annual budgets of two organizations within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have more than tripled: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Protection and Programs Directorate (also called the Office of Infrastructure Protection).

Meanwhile, five have budgets that are over 148% larger in FY2016 than they were in FY2007: Management and Operations (177%), Customs and Border Protection (171%), Office of Inspector General (164%), Citizenship and Immigration Services (163%) and the Secret Service (148%).

Meanwhile, the remaining seven major organizations have budgets in FY2016 that are all within 31% of what they were in FY2007 - some higher and some lower: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (131%), Coast Guard (128%), Transportation Security Administration (118%), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (97%), Analysis and Operations (88%), Science and Technology Directorate (81%) and the Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Explosives Office (72%).

This analysis omits the DHS' Office of Health Analysis, for which the Obama administration appears to have not requested funding in FY2017, and also the FEMA grants to U.S. states and local governments that are managed through the DHS, but which really represent spending by state and local governments that is funded by the federal government.

The TSA's budget peaked at $7.84 billion in FY2012, but was cut by 8.3% in FY2013. Since then, it has slowly risen back to be 94.9% of its peak budget value, which at $7.44 billion in FY2016, is also 118% of what the TSA spent to perform its mission in FY2007.

In FY2007, the TSA spent $6.33 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that $6.33 billion in 2007 U.S. dollars is the equivalent of $7.33 billion in 2016 U.S. dollars. Since the TSA will spend $7.44 billion in 2016, its spending has kept ahead of inflation.

What that means is that the TSA has all the money it would take to provide a similar level of service in 2016 as it did in 2007, if only it spent money the same way. Because it is spending its money differently, the problems the TSA is now having in causing significant delays for travelers at U.S. airports may be entirely attributed to the decisions of the DHS and its own management for how its available funds have actually been spent.

That's why the TSA's security chief, Kelley Hoggan, has been put on administrative leave, pending a new assignment (no, he hasn't has his federal government employment terminated as erroneously reported by several mainstream news outlets - that would take a system of real accountability for managerial job performance that the civilian branches of the U.S. federal government haven't had since 2008 - Hoggan is still receiving his full paycheck.)

Where does the buck stop again?

Data Sources

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Budget in Brief: Fiscal Year 2017. [PDF Document].
Accessed 25 May 2016.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Budget in Brief: Fiscal Year 2008 through Fiscal Year 2014. [Links to PDF Documents]. Accessed 25 May 2016.

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