September 27, 2012
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government has spent more than half a trillion dollars on homeland security—that is, activities that detect, deter, protect against, and respond to terrorist acts occurring within the United States and its territories. This CBO report summarizes the President’s proposed budget for homeland security activities in 2013 in the context of the strategic goals and missions for homeland security developed since those attacks. Those activities include counterterrorism efforts, the protection of civilians and critical infrastructure and assets, and emergency preparedness and response. Many activities that are counted today in the homeland security budget existed long before terrorism became a national concern.
(A printer-friendly version of the full report provides the information summarized here.)
The President Requested $68.9 Billion to Fund Homeland Security Activities in 2013; About Half Would Be Allocated to the Department of Homeland Security
The President’s request of $68.9 billion is 1.3 percent more than the amount provided for 2012. Although every Cabinet-level department receives homeland security funding, approximately 90 percent of the requested funding would be allocated to four departments:
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS—$35.5 billion, or 52 percent of the total homeland security request);
- Department of Defense (DoD—$17.9 billion, or 26 percent);
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS—$4.1 billion or 6 percent); and
- Department of Justice (DOJ—$4.0 billion or 6 percent).
At the department level, the President’s 2013 request for homeland security activities is similar in most respects to the funding that was enacted for fiscal year 2012.
Homeland Security Funding Is Organized to Meet Four Strategic Goals and Allocated Across Six Mission Areas
The homeland security budget request has the ultimate objective of meeting four strategic goals outlined in the National Strategy for Homeland Security:
- Prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks;
- Protect the American people, critical infrastructure, and key resources;
- Respond to and recover from incidents; and
- Continue to strengthen the homeland security foundation.
The vast majority—more than 90 percent—of the President’s request would be directed toward the first two strategic goals. About 9 percent would support the third goal, response and recovery. (The fourth goal is very broad and does not receive explicit funding.)
The Office of Management and Budget has identified six specific homeland security missions derived from those strategic goals. Funding for those six missions would be apportioned as follows under the President’s budget:
- Border and transportation security (36 percent of the total request);
- Protecting critical infrastructure and key assets (29 percent);
- Emergency preparedness and response (8 percent);
- Domestic counterterrorism (8 percent);
- Defending against catastrophic threats (7 percent); and
- Intelligence and warning (1 percent).
Federal Agencies Play Varying Roles in Providing Homeland Security
Proposed funding for DHS spans all six homeland security missions, but the majority of that funding is for border and transportation security, accounting for almost 70 percent of the President’s budget request for that department (see the figure below). Four DHS agencies—Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Coast Guard—are designated to receive almost all of the funds in support of that mission.
Because of laws, policies, and custom, the military’s involvement in domestic operations and law enforcement is limited. Hence, DoD and the military services tend to focus their homeland security efforts on protecting infrastructure that is essential for U.S. military operations from terrorist attack and preparing to help civil authorities if asked. Almost 80 percent of DoD’s homeland security funding would be for either military personnel or operation and maintenance.
HHS and DOJ would receive much less homeland security funding than DHS and DoD. However, both are tasked with essential homeland security missions. Funding for HHS supports the missions of defending against catastrophic threats (mainly developing medical countermeasures against biological, chemical, or radiological weapons) and emergency preparedness and response (mainly providing medical supplies, equipment, and personnel in order to respond to a catastrophic health event). DOJ’s main homeland security mission is counterterrorism, primarily conducted by the FBI, whose mission is to investigate major threats to the United States.
Funding for Homeland Security Grew Substantially for Much of the Past Decade but Has Declined in Recent Years
Funding for homeland security has dropped somewhat from its 2009 peak of $76 billion, in inflation-adjusted terms; funding for 2012 totaled $68 billion. Nevertheless, the nation is now spending substantially more than what it spent on homeland security in 2001. The allocation of homeland security funding among the various federal agencies has remained relatively constant since 2005.