The Biden administration is seeking $60.4 billion for the Department of Homeland Security in fiscal year 2024, nearly a percent less than the $61 billion Congress enacted in discretionary spending for FY ’23, and the request includes $535 million for border security technology, an increase for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and funding for the Coast Guard to acquire a commercial polar icebreaker.
The FY ’24 budget request for now largely includes only top line numbers for departments and some additional color and funding items at the agency and program level. More detailed funding by program and agency is slated to be released next Monday.
DHS sought $56.7 billion in discretionary spending in FY ’23.
The $535 million sought for border security technology at and between the ports of entry isn’t completely broken out but does include $305 million for non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems that would be deployed at ports of entry, “with a primary focus on fentanyl detection,” DHS said.
Customs and Border Protection, the DHS agency responsible for patrolling and security the nation’s land borders, is in the process of rolling out new NII systems that are being used in primary inspection lanes and land ports of entry to screen passenger and cargo vehicles as they approach a checkpoint without requiring occupants to exit the vehicle.
Diane Sabatino, deputy executive assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of Field Operations, told a House panel on Wednesday that over the next several years CBP expects to deploy enough of the new NII systems at primary inspection lanes along the southwest border to increase scanning of passenger vehicles from the current 1 to 2 percent up to 40 percent, and from the current 15 percent for fixed occupant commercial vehicles to 70 percent.
Legacy NII systems require occupants to exit their vehicles before an electronic scan is done, limiting the number of cars and trucks that can be screened quickly and efficiently.
Fentanyl smuggling into the U.S., largely from Mexico through land ports of entry, is a bipartisan issue for Congress. Sabatino told a House Oversight and Accountability panel that 84 percent of the fentanyl seized is at ports of entry. In FY ’22, she said her office seized nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl, a 31 percent increase over FY ’21, and is on track this year to “surpass” the FY ’22 level by mid-spring.
CBP is purchasing new NII systems from OSI Systems’ [OSIS] Rapiscan systems division, Leidos [LDOS], Smiths Detection and Astrophysics.
In FY ’23, the administration requested $1 billion for port and border security technology, which Congress increased by $150 million in the final appropriation.
Separately, the administration is also requesting $4.7 billion for a proposed Southwest Border Contingency Fund that would help DHS better respond to migrant surges, something it has been grappling with during President Biden’s presidency. If the contingency funding is granted, that would result in a 9 percent increase to the DHS budget over the FY ’23 level.
The administration is also seeking $3.1 billion for CISA, $145 million more than Congress enacted in FY ’23. It would mark the first time the young agency eclipses the $3 billion mark.
The budget documents say that the proposed CISA funding includes $98 million to implement new cyber security incident reporting requirements passed into law last year. CISA would also receive $425 million for its new Cyber Analytics Data System, “which is a robust and scalable analytic environment capable of providing advanced analytic capabilities to CISA’s cyber operators, DHS said.
The Coast Guard in FY ’23 requested $150 million for a commercial polar icebreaker to help fill current gaps in the service’s capabilities. Congressional appropriators originally funded the request but ultimately eliminated it in the final bill. The Coast Guard once again is seeking $150 million for a commercial polar icebreaker in FY ’24.
The Coast Guard’s proposed budget also includes $579 million for the medium-endurance offshore patrol cutter (OPC) and $170 million toward a third polar security cutter (PSC). The OPC funding is likely for two ships.
Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) is building the first four OPCs and the Coast Guard last year awarded Austal a contract for the next 11 cutters. That contract is being protested by ESG. The shipbuilder is under contract for the first four ships, with the first scheduled for delivery this year.
Bollinger Shipyards is under contract for the PSCs but has yet to cut steel on the first of the new heavy icebreakers.
The overall request for the Coast Guard is $12.1 billion in discretionary spending.