Bloated payrolls, misleading statements about the sequestration and failing to prepare adequately for the impending budget cuts are among the charges being leveled at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at a congressional hearing on Tuesday, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held the hearing as part of an overall effort to review executive agencies’ implementation of the recommendations by their inspectors general.
Since its creation in 2003, DHS has grown into one of the largest federal civilian employers with more than 230,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector, as noted on its web site.
Appropriations for DHS in FY2003 were $29.1 billion, and has grown to over $41 billion as of FY2012.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s exaggerated statements about the sequester also drew scrutiny, after she claimed that lines at major airports were 150 to 200 percent longer than usual. Airports have yet to feel any major effects from the budget cuts.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) questioned DHS Under Secretary for Management Rafael Borras about the release of over 2,000 detained illegal immigrants, 10 of whom were “level one” offenders, in preparation for the sequestration.
“Could you not find $12,000 somewhere else in the DHS budget other than releasing level one aggravated felons as part of your cost-saving measures?” Gowdy asked.
Borras conceded, under pressure from Gowdy, that DHS had sufficient funds to pay for retaining these felons, according to the Free Beacon.
Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.) questioned Borras on the sizable payroll of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), asking why it is not shuffling resources around to compensate for the budget cuts. TSA has almost 66,000 employees and 10,000 administrators, according to Mica.
“This is one of the most shameful things I’ve seen any agency do, and you are bloated beyond control,” Mica said.
Ironically, Mica helped establish the TSA in the wake of 9/11 and has previously called the agency “the little bastard child I created.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R. Ohio) criticized DHS’s inadequate preparation for the sequester, which still has not responded to an inquiry from chair Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) into how the committee and Congress can help the department better implement the budget cuts.
“It seems to me if you had 20 months to prepare for this, and the chairman asks you how we can help you better implement it, you should have something to email right away,” Jordan said.
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