DHS 2016 Budget Request Cuts Back on Drones, Funds Coast Guard Ship Procurement
As Congress continues to wrangle with legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security in 2015, the Obama administration released a fiscal year 2016 budget request that seeks to boost DHS funding by some $4 billion.
The $64.8 billion in total budget authority requested is an increase over the last enacted budget in 2014, which stood at $60.4 billion. Congress has yet to pass a 2015 budget for DHS as it squares off with the administration over executive orders for undocumented aliens.
Customs and Border Protection — in the wake of a scathing office of inspector general report on the under-use of its unmanned aerial systems — is proposing an additional $35 million to increase flight hours, and $8.4 million to hire 15 new UAS crews. There is no new drone procurement, but the budget proposes $44.4 million for the acquisition of two King Air-350CER multi-role enforcement aircraft, a manned system that carries land, sea and air-to-air radars.
CBP is also requesting $16 million to purchase 10 mobile surveillance systems for Border Patrol agents to use in three Texas sectors. The mobile suite of sensors can be moved to where needed as opposed to fixed camera towers.
The Transportation Security Administration’s request for 2016 is down slightly. It is $40 million less than the $7.3 billion enacted in 2014.
The Coast Guard’s overall budget is also relatively flat compared to last year’s request, which has yet to be enacted, and down almost $400 million from 2014. The request includes $534 million for surface ship recapitalization and procurement and $200 million for air assets.
The request would provide $91 million to complete the fleet of eight national security cutters, $340 million to procure six fast response cutters and $18.5 million to continue design reviews of the offshore patrol cutter, which is in the process of source selection. The Coast Guard is also asking for $102 million to convert Army surplus C-27J transport aircraft for its use.
There is some money for preliminary work on a much-needed polar icebreaker, but nothing for the acquisition of an unmanned aerial vehicle to fly off the larger ships.
Other notable requests in other DHS agencies include: $85.3 million to refresh passive radiation technologies used at ports to detect nuclear bombs or radioactive materials; $83.3 million for the much-maligned BioWatch Program, which sniffs the air in large cities for harmful biological agents; and $86.7 million for the Secret Service to carry out recommendations intended to boost White House security.