POGO's Homeland Security Investigations are challenging the government for failing to adequately protect the public in the aftermath of 9/11. In 2002, the federal government created an enormous bureaucracy charged with domestic protection. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now the third largest agency in the federal government. But the push to improve homeland security has been plagued by wasteful spending, poor contracting decisions, and a lack of oversight and accountability. POGO seeks to improve the allocation of taxpayer dollars and resources in order to make the U.S. public more safe and secure. Click on the program areas below to learn more.
The attacks of 9/11 exposed glaring weaknesses in U.S. aviation security. Several years later, POGO worked with insiders from the Federal Air Marshal Service to reveal government plans to remove air marshals from nonstop long-distance flights. POGO’s Aviation Security Investigations are aimed at making air travel more secure for all Americans.
POGO is concerned with the emerging threat of bioterrorism and the twenty-fold increase in biodefense spending in recent years. After the 2001 anthrax attacks, POGO also raised questions about the slew of new researchers gaining access to bioweapons pathogens. This biodefense response, if not overseen properly, may actually exacerbate the chances of accidental or intentional infections.
Protecting a nation's borders and international trade is a vital homeland security interest. This mission is not easy because the government is responsible for preventing terrorists, weapons, and drugs from entering the U.S. They must also facilitate and enforce trade and travel laws and regulations. POGO's goal is to expose deficiencies in these areas and promote a more accountable and effective border protection program while respecting civil liberties.
POGO advocates for tighter controls over ammonium nitrate and other chemicals that could be used in terrorist attacks.
The Coast Guard’s $24 billion Deepwater modernization program has been plagued by delivery delays and cost overruns. POGO has also raised concerns about retaliation against whistleblowers who exposed serious flaws with the Coast Guard’s efforts to update its aging fleet of boats. These and other issues must be addressed in order for the Coast Guard to carry out its important mission to protect America’s coasts, ports, and inland waterways.
Department of Homeland Security Spending
In response to post-9/11 terrorist threats and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, there has been an explosion in homeland security spending. POGO has found, however, that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has poor contract management policies and procedures, which puts the agency at great risk at a time when it is buying infant technologies, and buying under emergency circumstances where competition is, by necessity, limited or non-existent. POGO’s investigations are aimed at improving DHS spending policies while protecting taxpayers from risky contractors and costly security projects.
In recent years, there has been a frenzied appeal for more funding to protect the nation from an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), a type of nuclear explosion that is harmless to people but can wreak havoc on electronic equipment. While there are some legitimate concerns about the possibility of an EMP attack, POGO has found that the push for more funding has been driven not by scientific considerations, but rather by the interests of individuals who stand to benefit financially from an increase in anti-EMP spending. POGO recommends that an independent scientific commission be placed in charge of assessing the threat posed by a possible EMP attack.