That speech came five days after his decision to create the Department of Homeland Security, a merging of 22 federal agencies into one Cabinet-level agency.
Mr. Bush called it “the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s” but said the new agency would “make government more effective and efficient so that we can do our job.”
“The idea, of course, is not to grow the size of government,” he added.
But government has grown.
Spending on homeland security has tripled under Mr. Bush, and DHS has become the third-largest source of federal contracts - behind the Departments of Defense and Energy - creating what one expert describes as a “hidden work force.”
Contractors, says scholar Paul Light, are a primary reason why the number of government employees - when military personnel and contract employees are included - rose from 11 million in 1999 to 14.6 million in 2005.
DHS’s budget history tells a big part of the story.
Government spending on the 22 federal agencies that became DHS held more or less steady through the 1990s, going from $9 billion at the start of the decade to $11 billion in 2000, said economist Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, who based his estimate on OMB numbers.
In 2001, homeland defense spending bumped up to $13 billion. Then in 2002, it doubled to $29 billion.
In 2003, when DHS was formally created, its budget went up to $34 billion. It dipped back to $28 billion in 2004, but by 2008 was back at $36 billion.
DHS agencies, meanwhile, have been plagued by accusations of corruption, inadequate contractor oversight and ineptitude, according to inspector general reports and congressional oversight committees.
Take the Transportation Security Administration, which has an annual budget of about $6 billion.
According to a report by the DHS inspector general, TSA employees have for years been defrauding their taxpayer-funded work injury compensation system.
The injury rate among TSA workers is the highest, by far, of any government agency. In fiscal 2006, 16 percent of TSA workers were reported injured on the job, compared with 4.5 percent for the rest of the federal work force.
Some TSA workers have received injury compensation for up to three years for injuries that were either undocumented, suspicious or from which they had recovered, the report said.View Entire Story
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