CORRUPTION PLAGUES HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT
August 2, 2005
The United States Homeland Security Department has been hit with a string of embarrassing internal reports of incompetence and corruption, the most recent of which details the arrests of 146 workers and grant recipients and the identification of $18.5 million of improper spending, says the Heartland Institute.
In a semi-annual report to Congress, Acting Inspector General Richard L. Skinner describes the findings of 325 internal investigations, audits and inspections between October 2004 and March 2005. Within the six month period, investigations netted $106 million in fines, restitutions and other recovered funds.
Some of the worst offenses uncovered include:
- The $19 million Transportation Security Administration transportation security center under construction in Herndon, Va., with 79 full-time employees, has seven kitchens and a fitness center that is more than half the size of one that serves nearly 7,000 employees at the agency's headquarters.
- The TSA agency project manager told the contractor to disguise $500,000 of artwork, art consultant fees, silk plants and furnishings; those and other items were described as ?equipment and tools.?
- To avoid spending limits on individual purchases, transaction were routinely split into multiple purchases for items including leather briefcases, armoires and love seats.
In addition to the waste and abuse at the Herndon facility, 37 airport baggage screeners have been fired for theft of jewelry or other valuables from passenger's luggage and since 2003, TSA has paid $736,000 to settle claims about missing items.
Source: Steve Stanek, "Corruption Plagues Homeland Security Department," Heartland Institute, Budget and Tax News, Vol. 3, No. 6, July 2005; and Department of Homeland Security, "Semiannual Report to the Congress, October 1, 2004 - March 31, 2005," May 1, 2005.
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