On his final day serving in the U.S. Senate, Senator Tom Coburn released an oversight report, A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Missions and Performance, which finds the Department of Homeland Security is not successfully executing any of its five main missions.
“Ten years of oversight of the Department of Homeland Security finds that the Department still has a lot of work to do to strengthen our nation’s security,” Dr. Coburn explained. “Congress needs to review the Department’s mission and programs and refocus DHS on national priorities where DHS has a lead responsibility.”
The following are some of the report’s key findings:
- The Department of Homeland Security spent $50 billion over the past eleven years on counterterrorism programs, including homeland security grants and other anti-terror initiatives, but the department cannot demonstrate if the nation is more secure as a result.
- As of 2014, 700 miles of the Southern border remain unsecured.
- DHS is not effectively administering or enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, and only 3 in 100 illegal immigrants will ever face deportation.
- DHS spends more than $700 million annually to lead the federal government’s efforts on cybersecurity, but struggles to protect itself and cannot protect federal and civilian networks from the most serious cyber attacks.
- DHS has spent $170 billion for natural disasters since 2002, in part because of an increased federal role in which the costs of small storms are declared “major disasters.”
Despite these findings, Senator Coburn expressed optimism about the Department’s future if Congress acts soon to address the problems identified in this report. “I am confident that Secretary Jeh Johnson is leading the Department in the right direction,” Senator Coburn commented. “One of the biggest challenges that Sec. Johnson and DHS face is Congress and its dysfunctional approach to setting priorities for the Department. Congress needs to work with the Department to refocus its missions on national priorities and give Secretary Johnson the authority to lead and fix the Department.”
As he ends his term in the Senate, Dr. Coburn thanked his fellow members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: “It has been an honor to serve on the Committee over the past ten years. I thank my friend Chairman Tom Carper and the other members of the Committee. I am confident that under the leadership of Chairman Ron Johnson and Senator Carper the Committee will continue to be a model of bipartisanship and work together to improve DHS. I hope that this final report will serve as a useful tool in that effort.”