Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims that sequestration will undermine DHS’s “core critical mission,” but the White House projects that her department will have $9 billion in unspent funding at the end of the year.
“[T]he Office of Management and Budget projected that at the end of fiscal year 2013, DHS would carry forward more than $9 billion in unobligated balances,” Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., wrote in a letter to Napolitano. “This is money that has not yet been spent, nor even assigned to a specific project, raising the question of why we would not start by reclaiming these funds. I would appreciate if DHS could provide an explanation for what these funds are for and whether the agency has considered them for sequestration.”
Sequestration will cut DHS’s budget by $2.6 billion. Coburn also noted that DHS has a large “fiscal stimulus” program, with over twice as much money still unspent in that program as is needed to pay for the sequester.
“Last year, DHS announced that approximately $8.3 billion FEMA grant funds for preparedness programs had not been spent,” Coburn said. “The Department issued new guidance to grant recipients to expedite the spending on those funds “in light of the current economic situation and the need for further fiscal stimulus.” According to an estimate the Department recently gave my staff, $5.25 billion of those funds remained unspent. In light of the looming sequester, DHS might reconsider this move and instead recover some or all unspent grants and reallocate them to higher priorities.”