DHS Secretary Addresses Sequestration

How will sequestration affect Department of Homeland Security operations?

On January 31, 2013, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano responded to a letter regarding the potential impacts of sequestration submitted by Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski of the Appropriations Committee. Ms. Napolitano explains then that reductions mandated by Sequestration will undermine the significant progress DHS has made over the past ten years and will negatively affect the Department’s ability to carry out its vital missions. Here are a few examples she cites:

• U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will not be able to maintain current staffing levels of Border Patrol Agents and CBP Officers as mandated by Congress. Funding and staffing reductions will increase wait times at airports, affect security between land ports of entry, CBP’s ability to collect revenue owed to the Federal Government, and slow screening and entry programs for those traveling into the United States.

• The Transportation Security Administration will reduce its frontline workforce, which will substantially increase passenger wait times at airport security checkpoints.

• Furloughs and reductions in overtime will adversely affect the availability of the U.S. Secret Service workforce and hinder ongoing criminal investigations.

• The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund will be reduced by over a billion dollars, with an impact on survivors recovering from future severe weather events and affecting the economic recoveries of local economies in those regions.

• DHS will be unable to move forward with necessary management integration efforts such as modernizing critical financial systems. This will hinder the Department to provide accurate and timely financial reporting, facilitate clean audit options, address systems security issues, and remediate financial control and financial system weaknesses.

For Ms. Napolitano’s full written testimony on “The Impacts of Sequestration,” please visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website: http://www.dhs.gov/news/2013/02/14/written-testimony-secretary-napolitano-senate-committee-appropriations-hearing.