The fedeal Homeland Security Department has done a poor job overseeing the purchase of billions of dollars of equipment and technology since it was created five years ago, says Congress’s Government Accountability Office (GAO). USA Today quotes a new GAO report as saying that department officials have “not provided the oversight needed” to ensure that purchases “with important national security objectives” function properly and stay on budget.
The report levels criticism at a complex process Homeland Security has used to purchase security equipment, including machines that scan suitcases for bombs. In many cases, programs were delayed or went over budget, including planned improvements in Coast Guard rescues, luggage screening, and the capture and removal of illegal migrants. Rep. David Price (D-NC), head of the subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security spending, said the department’s purchasing system needs an overhaul to protect billions in taxpayer funds. The report found that 45 of 48 major acquisitions were not reviewed regularly by an oversight board. Fourteen of those projects had cost overruns, delays, and shortcomings in how they functioned.