Jeff Gentner/AP file photo

Homeland Security Advised to Segregate Spending Streams

Watchdog says department’s agencies handle administrative funds differently, complicating budget assessments.

The Homeland Security Department could help Congress better evaluate its nearly $60 billion annual budget if it separated spending on management and administrative functions from spending on fulfilling its mission, an audit found.

The Government Accountability Office, after reviewing eight DHS components representing 88 percent of the department’s budget, determined that sub-agencies differed in how they define administrative spending and that agencies such as the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, while capable of segregating such funds, are not in the habit of doing so because they are not required to. 

The spending category of management and administration includes funds for planning and budgeting, legal support, acquisitions and grants administration, workforce management, information technology, infrastructure and operations, and facilities support, GAO noted. 

The study examined DHS’s Efficiency Review, an effort to comply with the White House-run Campaign to Cut Waste. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and a subcommittee ranking member, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., received the report in December. 

Auditors recommended that DHS implement a mechanism to assess and correct management and administrative spending data agencies enter into the departmentwide Homeland Security Program System Program Data Module.

DHS officials agreed.

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