March 9, 2004 | News Releases on Department of Homeland Security

President's Homeland Security Budget Needs Only Minor Repair, analyst says

WASHINGTON, MARCH 9, 2004 - President Bush's proposed budget for the Department of Homeland Security requires mere tweaking - more money for the Coast Guard's deepwater modernization program, expanding pilot programs that create strike forces of federal, state and local law enforcement to tighten border security - to make it ideal, according to a new paper from The Heritage Foundation.

The president's 2005 proposal calls for $47.4 billion in total funding for homeland security, a 13 percent increase that "represents a significant and appropriate growth in homeland security expenditures," says James Carafano, an expert on homeland and national security and author of the paper.

Carafano says the Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, sensors and command and control are outdated, inadequate and expensive to operate and maintain. He says they must be modernized and that promised funding for this has not materialized but needs to.

Additionally, he says the budget should be adjusted to favor programs that emphasize intelligence sharing between government and private enterprise, particularly on early warning systems and protecting critical infrastructure. He says border and transportation security programs should emphasize a layered approach to protecting the homeland and that programs that enhance domestic counterterrorism without compromising civil liberties get top priority.

Research and development money should go toward finding new ways to respond to catastrophic threats and toward creating a truly national preparedness system, Carafano says.

Areas to look to for cuts include the port security grants program because port security should take a backseat to securing all of the high seas, and to direct grants for state and local governments - until a system can be established to ensure this money is spent efficiently.

Project Bioshield, an effort to bring the best science to bear to protect us from biological weapons, is funded at an appropriate level for now - about $6 billion over 10 years, Carafano says. But it should be watched to ensure it either makes significant progress or ceases to consume scarce resources.

"It's not just a matter of spending more money on homeland security," says Carafano. "We should find the most productive programs and give them priority."

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