DHS introduced a new talking point in separate Senate hearings today with Sec. Chertoff and Dep. Sec. Jackson: the idea that total spending on port security is “$10 billion.” It’s a bit unclear what this number means, however, as there was a divergence of interpretation between Chertoff and Jackson in their remarks. Chertoff said that it covered the period from Sept. 11, 2001 through to the end of FY 2007 (assuming the budget is approved as requested); Jackson said that this total covered only the budgets from FY 2004 to FY 2007.
A DHS fact sheet published last week estimated FY 2005 spending on port security at $1.6 billion. Jackson estimated current year (FY 2006) spending at $2.5 billion, and Chertoff told Congress that there was $3 billion for port security in the FY 2007 request. That adds up to $7.1 billion of the $10 billion total, which presumably leaves $2.9 billion for the fiscal year(s) prior to FY 2005. Logic would thus suggest that Chertoff’s explanation of this total (from 9/11 through FY 2007) is the correct one, since under Jackson’s explanation, port security spending would have been $2.9 billion in FY 2004, and then somehow decreased to $1.6 billion in FY 2005.
This is generally consistent with my estimate last week of total port security spending since 9/11, in which I estimated a total of $6.13 billion from the start of FY 2002 (Oct. 1, 2002) to the midpoint of the current fiscal year (FY 2006), given the fact that my estimate excludes 18 future months from the timetable of the DHS statistic. And my estimate has more spending in the earlier years (FY 2002 to FY 2004) and less spending than the totals suggested above for FY 2006 and FY 2007.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) asked Dep. Sec. Jackson for a clear explanation of this $10b total at today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing, and he agreed to provide this to her. I hope that DHS will release this spending analysis publicly as well.