Report: Massive Fiscal Waste At Homeland Security

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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A new report from the Depart of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general shows that up to $49 million dollars was wasted in purchasing vehicles that were underused, according to Government Executive.

The audit, covering fiscal year 2012, discovered that the hefty monetary losses are due to a complete lack of internal controls to match cost effectiveness with vehicle purchases. Currently, there is no centralized department that deals with vehicle acquisitions, and so sub-agencies are given free rein to determine their own needs, resulting in an overall disjointed and fiscally inefficient fleet. Apart from the military, the DHS has the second largest civilian vehicle fleet in the government, totaling 56,000 owned or leased vehicles.

“Each DHS component manages its own vehicle fleet, making it difficult for the DHS Fleet Manager to provide adequate oversight and ensure compliance with Federal laws, regulations, policies, and directives,” the report stated. This means that the DHS has to rely on multiple different sources from within the agency that provide missing and contradictory figures on the vehicles purchased.

But the current structure does not allow the Fleet Manager to determine the accuracy of the data, nor can it remove underused vehicles. In short, the independence of sub-agencies within the DHS and the lack of centralized authority held by the DHS Fleet Manager are mostly to blame for fiscal waste and mismanagement, according to the inspector general.

As a result, it is impossible to calculate whether the number of vehicles purchased will match the needs or grossly exceed them, leading to systemic underuse.

Additionally, the inspector general discovered that the DHS failed to meet a White House mandate, which required all new vehicles to be hybrid, electric or alternatively fueled. For 2012, only 4 percent of vehicles met that criterion.

Management over at the DHS largely agreed with the findings and recommendations of the audit, saying that they will commit to implementing the changes by 2015.

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