• Panel's draft bill shields DHS funds

    A house panel introduced a bill last week that will protect DHS from budget cuts facing other domestic agencies under the house’s budget plan. This will allow the department to hire 1,600 new agents at Customs and Border Patrol agency, replace cuts to local and state governments, boost spending on cybersecurity, and abandon cuts to the Coast Guard.

  • FAA gave bonuses to employees while flights were delayed or canceled

    Internal FAA documents show that in early February, while passengers got stranded at airports across the country because sequester-mandated cuts in the FAA budget which led the agency to furlough air-traffic controllers, FAA employees received bonuses for their performance on the job.

  • Federal budget deficit falling fast – perhaps too fast, some economists say

    In each of the last four years the federal budget has exceeded $1 trillion dollars every year. This year, however, the government’s annual deficit is falling faster than anyone thought it would. Some economists say it may be falling too fast. In FY2009-10, the deficit was more than 10 percent of GDP. On present trends, by 2015 the federal budget deficit would be just 2.1 percent of GDP.

  • White House to take a second look at FAA furloughs

    The White House hinted Wednesday that it could accept legislation which would end Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughs. Passengers have been in arms over lengthening flight delays and a growing number of flight cancellations, while GOP lawmakers accused the FAA of implementing the sequester-mandated budget cut in such a way so as to cause maximum inconvenience to passengers.

  • Atlanta losing DHS area security grant money

    The city of Atlanta is losing DHS grant money used to strengthen the city’s ability to protect against a terrorist attack. Despite being home to recent high profile events such as the NCAA’s Final Four, federal records show the amount of money allocated to Atlanta through urban area security grants has dropped from $13 million in 2010 to $5 million last year.

  • Office implementing Obamacare avoids furloughs

    Gary Cohen, the director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said Wednesday that his office will not be furloughing its workers due to the federal budget cuts known as the sequester. His office is in charge of implementing most of President Obama’s healthcare law.

  • N.Y. lawmakers oppose proposed hikes in U.S.-Canada border crossing fees

    The U.S. government is considering charging a new fee for every vehicle or pedestrian crossing the U.S.–Canada border. This has upset lawmakers in New York who argue the toll would hurt trans-boundary commerce and undermine efforts to ease the flow of traffic and goods between the two countries. Moreover they suggest that the real purpose of the proposed fees is to subsidize the more expensive security operations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • FAA furloughs begin with impact on flights slight so far

    Sunday was the first day of FAA furloughs, but commercial airline flights ran smoothly throughout the country. There were delays in New York area airports, but nothing that was considered significant. There were also delays in Florida, but they were caused by thunderstorms.

  • Airlines ask court to stop FAA furloughs

    The FAA’s annual budget is $16 billion. As part of the sequester, the agency must reduce its budget by $637 million between now and the end of September. The agency says that the only way it can achieve these saving is by imposing a 2-week furlough on its 47,000 employees – including 15,000 air traffic controllers. A coalition of U.S. airlines has petitioned a federal court to stop the furloughs, which began yesterday, saying they would leas to the cancellation of 6,700 flights a day.

  • DHS cuts funds for programs aiming to prevent a McVeigh-like fertilizer bombing attacks

    Timothy McVeigh used two tons of fertilizer and $3,000 of racing fuel to detonate a bomb outside the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The blast killed 168 people. The Obama administration is currently not allocating money or resources to preventing fertilizer bombing attacks like the one McVeigh used, according to a former DHS official with direct knowledge of the department’s budgeting and operations.

  • DHS-funded police gear blurs line between crime-fighting and war-fighting

    DHS is funding the purchase of military gear by Bay Area police departments. Critics of the program say the money allocated for the war on terror is blurring the line between local law enforcement focusing on crime fighting and soldiers fighting in an enemy war zone.

  • Federal security grants to Kansas City cut

    DHS has removed Kansas City from the list of cities receiving DHS grants, which means that the city will now have to rely on its own resources to train local law enforcement on how to predict, spot, and react to terrorist activities.

  • Reinvestment in U.S. water infrastructure should be a top national priority

    The U.S. water infrastructure is often called the “invisible infrastructure” – a vast, largely invisible network of pipes and tunnels — nearly 1.4 million miles span across the United States, which is eight times the length of the U.S. highway system. Much of the U.S. infrastructure was built more than a century ago, and currently around 10 percent of these systems are at the end of their service life. If not addressed by 2020, this number could rise to 44 percent. A summit meeting of the U.S. water community calls on Congress to make water infrastructure a top national priority.

  • DHS formula grants to states drop dramatically

    DHS money allocation o money to states for first response and disaster recovery has dropped significantly. DHS formula grant program was at an all-time high of $2 billion in 2003, but last year the program had only $294 million. As a result of the sequester, another 5 percent will be cut from the program.

  • Proposed budget shows DHS will have to do with less

    The administration’s proposed 2013 budget shows that DHS will have to do with less: the department $39 billion is $625 million less than the department’s2012 budget, and, in addition, the department has committed to save an additional $1.3 billion by reducing administrative costs. Among the big-ticket items in the new budget: $714 million for a state-of-the-art animal disease lab; $494 million to fund research and development in cybersecurity, explosives detection, and chemical/biological response systems; and $221 million for 1,600 additional Border Patrol agents.