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Albuquerque Journal Opinion: 9 Months Later, DHS Still a Black Hole

By Michael Coleman
Albuquerque Journal

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has no shortage of critics, but few are as fierce – or as informed – as former Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who retired from Congress this month.

In one of his final acts before he left Washington, the former ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee dropped a scathing oversight report that says, in essence, the department is an incompetent mess.

DHS has five primary missions: enforcing immigration law, securing the border, preventing terrorism, safeguarding cyberspace and strengthening national preparedness. According to Coburn, it does none of them well.

“Based upon the available evidence, DHS is not successfully executing any of its five main missions,” Coburn wrote in the report’s introduction. “Many of DHS’s programs, in fact, are ineffective and should be reconsidered.”

Coburn’s report reflects many of the findings in a three-part Journal investigation of DHS’ “Mission Creep” published last April – especially that the agency can’t account for billions of dollars in grants sent to the states. The Journal series found that in New Mexico, the state Department of Homeland Security also was unable to say exactly where the federal money goes.

“DHS has not effectively tracked how these funds are spent and federal dollars often subsidize routine (and in some cases questionable) expenditures by states, localities, and other groups,” the Coburn report says, referring to FEMA grants in particular.

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