- - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs may be the nation’s most dysfunctional government agency, but the Department of Homeland Security runs a close second. The details of its bungling is set out in its latest report to Congress.

Despite its $60 billion budget and nearly a quarter of a million employees, nobody seems to be minding the store. Grants are dished out like Halloween candy to anyone who rings the doorbell, regardless of need. The department frittered away more than $24 million to protect highways and urban areas in Puerto Rico — as if the terrorists of al Qaeda and ISIS have been casing the streets of San Juan and are coiled and poised to strike.

Bureaucrats don’t care how money is spent. Spending it is what’s important. Hawaii can’t account for $7.4 million in Homeland Security handouts. Oregon has $2.3 million in “questioned expenses.” American Samoa either misspent or pocketed nearly all of $4 million it received through Homeland Security grants.

According to Homeland’s own accounting, the department has no idea how it spent one small pot, $2.9 million, now missing. The money is gone, but there are no documents to say what all those tax dollars paid for. The accounting just vanished, like an IRS email.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is part of Homeland Security, blew $100 million for specific “cleanup efforts” where no cleaning was done. The agency didn’t bother trying to get the money back. Why bother? It’s other people’s money, and there’s plenty where that money came from.

The public isn’t happy about it. Angry telephone calls and furious letters were aimed at Homeland Security 7,250 times in the past six months. Complaints of civil rights abuses made up 1,295 of the complaints. Infringing the rights protected by the Constitution has become this administration’s national sport.

A congressional investigation two years ago revealed the Transportation Security Administration, perhaps the most notorious branch of Homeland Security, hired pedophiles and child pornographers among the agents who grope air travelers, young and old.

This is the agency that fails most spectacularly by ignoring its mission to secure and protect the nation’s southern border. Homeland Security has been so ineffective that the agency concedes that the number of illegal aliens now here exceeds 11.5 million. The counting by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers puts the number closer to 20 million. Whatever it is, it’s a lot.

The Department of Homeland Security is a mess. Congress should go back to the drawing board, if there is one, to trim a department grown too big for its ample breeches.