Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 10, 2006

DHS budgets and congressional justifications

Filed under: Budgets and Spending — by Christian Beckner on February 10, 2006

As regular readers here know, I’ve been writing this past week about the DHS budget request for FY 2007, trying to uncover key insights about the Department’s key strategic intentions from the budget documents.

But these source documents from DHS and OMB only paint a very fuzzy picture about the Department of Homeland Security and its activities. In contrast, DHS provides Congress with much more detailed information every year in its Congressional Justifications (CJs). These lengthy reports present a detailed picture of the strategic and financial plans for each of DHS’s key constituent parts (CBP, ICE, TSA, Coast Guard, FEMA, etc.), in order to enhance Congress’ preparation for the appropriations process.

For example, take a look at the FY 2006 CJ for the Department’s Science and Technology Directorate, which was posted on a University of California website last winter. It contains 156 pages of detailed analysis about the S&T directorate’s plans and activities. Contrast that with the six page overview of the S&T directorate in the DHS FY 2006 Budget in Brief. There’s no comparison.

It’s important that Congress has the benefit of these documents as it engages DHS on the budget process. But access to the CJ’s could also benefit many other homeland security stakeholders, such as academics, public interest groups, unions, state and local officials, private-sector companies, and the media, all of whom play a key role in the broader homeland security enterprise.

There is no good reason why these Congressional Justifications should not be made public. They are not secret or classified documents. They are prepared with taxpayer dollars. Many other government agencies publish their CJ’s on their websites. They should be made public.

If loyal readers send me copies of the DHS Congressional Justifications for FY 2007, I will post them here at HLS Watch. If you find this site valuable, and you have access to any or all of the CJ’s, please consider sending them to me (or contacting me to arrange other means of delivery). I will take any necessary measures to protect senders’ identities, and I would repost them on this site for all to read.

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