Department of Homeland Security struggling with funding issues

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is struggling financially with the need for new facilities and the need to continue to fund its critical missions.

The DHS currently does not have enough money to pay for the new National Bio and Agro Defense Facility on the Kansas State University campus or the second phase of construction for a new headquarters on the St. Elizabeths campus in Washington D.C. This puts the department in a tough situation in which it may need to take money from mission-critical programs to pay for the facilities, Federal News Radio reports.

"Severe cuts to the S&T budget in recent years makes it impossible to fund NBAF construction out of the S&T operating budget," Tara O'Toole, the under secretary for the Science and Technology Directorate at the DHS, said, according to Federal News Radio. "Our FY 2012 appropriations for discretionary research and development was 56 percent less than what it was in 2010, so we are potentially faced with the Hobbesian Choice of constructing a needed new laboratory that the country requires or pursuing essential R&D for the DHS missions."

The DHS headquarters would need almost $4 billion in construction costs for the consolidation of the agency on the St. Elizabeths campus. Programs that could be affected by diverting funds for the construction include protecting the borders, strengthening computer networks and multiple critical needs throughout the department. Lawmakers understand how difficult the situation is for the DHS.

"Today the bottom line is that Under Secretary Borras and Under Secretary O'Toole know we have limited funds, and if they could come to us with a budget that reflects that and says the funding is not what we thought it was originally going to be when we first envisioned these two facilities, what we would like to do is get a reasonable budget to say based on having less money than we originally thought of, this is what we would foresee we would do," Rep. Robert Aderholt, (R-Ala.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, said, according to Federal News Radio.