Drones used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “guard” the U.S. border for nearly a decade are ineffective even though the agency has blown hundreds of millions of dollars on the failed program and wants Congress to keep funding it.
It’s yet another example of what government does best; waste money. In this case the frontline DHS agency—U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)—that operates the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAC) is actually requesting more money from Congress to keep the futile drone experiment going. Imagine a private business that for years blew huge sums on a failed enterprise asking investors to pour more cash into the same useless project.
That’s pretty much what DHS is doing and the details are offered in an audit published this month by the agency’s inspector general. The Border Patrol has used drones for around eight years, the audit reveals, at a cost of about $360 million. In fiscal year 2013 alone the agency spent $62.5 million to operate the program, or about $12,255 per hour. It gets better. DHS has lied about the cost of operating the drones, the inspector general writes in its report, by drastically downplaying the real figures. The “calculation of $2,468 per flight hour does not include operating costs, such as the costs of pilots, equipment, and overhead,” the report says. “By not including all operating costs, CBP also cannot accurately assess the program’s cost effectiveness or make informed decisions about program expansion.”
The inspector general goes on to blast the agency for its deceiving accounting practices involving drones. “In addition, unless CBP fully discloses all operating costs, Congress and the public are unaware of all the resources committed to the Unmanned Aircraft System program. As a result, CBP has invested significant funds in a program that has not achieved the expected results, and it cannot demonstrate how much the program has improved border security.” It’s a diplomatic way of saying our Homeland Security officials are embroiled in corrupt acts or, at the very least, misuse of public funds.