Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002 by combining 22 agencies that are responsible for a vast array of activities. President George W. Bush promised that the new department would "improve efficiency without growing government" and would cut out "duplicative and redundant activities that drain critical homeland security resources."
The president's promise of creating a lean and efficient DHS did not materialize. The department's spending doubled from $27 billion in 2004 to $54 billion in 2014. Its workforce expanded from 163,000 employees in 2004 to 190,000 by 2014. And far from being efficient, DHS agencies are some of the most poorly managed in the federal government.
DHS houses the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Secret Service, and many other agencies. These agencies are known more for scandals than for high performance, and burying them within the DHS bureaucratic superstructure did not help matters.
This article explores three types of DHS failing: general mismanagement, misallocated investment, and civil liberties abuse. It argues that DHS should be closed down. Needed DHS agencies should be moved to other departments or should report directly to the president. Other DHS agencies, including FEMA and TSA, should be terminated because their services would be better provided by the states and private sector.