Former inspector general raps Homeland Security Department in report

| 12/30/2004

The former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security has criticized the agency’s spending priorities, saying the department is dysfunctional, money is wasted and efforts to better secure the nation have not succeeded, media outlets reported this week.

The comments, which are part of a draft report that has yet to be officially released, were made by Clark Kent Ervin. Ervin left his position as inspector general at the agency earlier this month. He had been an interim appointee and federal law required that the president re-submit his name when the term ran out. President Bush did not re-submit Ervin’s name.

Among the items Ervin points to in his report, according to The New York Post, is that money earmarked to increase security at U.S. ports was used on lower-priority issues, such as social events. Homeland Security issues were a major issue in the 2004 presidential race. Democrats made particular note of the lack of security and container inspections at the nation’s ports, citing that 95 percent of containers are not checked.

The White House was quick to respond. Speaking to reporters not far from the president’s ranch in Crawford, TX, spokesman Trent Duffy said “the Department of Homeland Security is doing an exceptional job protecting the American people.”

“Obviously, there are organizational challenges when you undertake the biggest government reform since the Pentagon was created. And we’re working on that,” he said. “But there’s no question that the American people are much safer today than they were before the DHS was created, and they’ll be safer tomorrow.”

Ervin’s report noted a number of gaps that have yet to be filled in the nation’s security net. At the same time, according to a report in USA Today, Ervin said officials within the department have wasted millions, in part because of spending on such items as social events and bonuses, in part because of a lack of competitive bidding on department work, but also because of “chaotic and disorganized” accounting practices.