Clean Up Security Spending Waste

Many local residents probably saw last week’s report criticizing the Homeland Security Department coming. What is interesting about that is that though our knowledge of waste in the department dates back a few year, it appears little was done in the interim to address concerns.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., issued a 54-page report listing episodes of rampant waste of taxpayers’ money by the department. Among outrageous spending listed in Coburn’s report was $24,000 for a “latrine on wheels” in Fort Worth, Texas; and $285,933 for a “BearCat” armored vehicle in Keene, New Hampshire, population 23,409.

One reason agency officials don’t worry much about spending reforms is that they don’t agree with Coburns conclusions about waste. DHS spokesman Matt Chandler huffed to reporters that the department “fundamentally disagrees with the report’s position on the value of homeland security grants …”

But many local residents have reason to agree with the senator, because they remember the fiasco a few years ago when the DHS pressured the sheriff of Wetzel County to accept an expensive boat for use on the Ohio River. The sheriff responded his department already had an adequate boat available and didn’t want to spend taxpayers’ money needlessly on storing and maintaining a new craft from the DHS. Even then, the agency pressured the sheriff to take the boat.

Coburn is right: Allowing the DHS to waste money doesn’t make Americans more secure.