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DHS R&D spending 'noticeably low' says CSIS report

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Contractual obligations for research and development by the Homeland Security Department "are noticeably low," says a report analyzing spending trends at the department since its 2004 creation.

The report (.pdf), published Nov. 13 by Center for Strategic and International Studies researchers, finds that R&D has never consumed more than 10 percent of DHS annual obligations and has oscillated between a high of 8 percent in 2004 and a low of 2 percent in 2009.

Because research requires long time frames and sustained investment, those figures suggest that the majority of DHS R&D contract obligations are for short-term development and testing efforts, the report says.

The Defense Department, by contrast, in the past decade has obligated between 10 and 20 percent of its total contract dollars on unclassified R&D contracts.

In contrast to R&D, overall DHS contract obligations are relatively stable, having from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2011 totaled between $13 billion and $15 billion annually (in constant 2011 dollars). Departmental contract spending is prone to spikes, mainly in response to specific events. Other DHS obligations such as grants are more liable to event-driven variability, however, the report finds.

Which DHS component has spent the most on contracts since fiscal 2007 has been a contest between Customs and Border Protection (with peak spending of $3.4 billion in fiscal 2008), the Coast Guard (peak spending of $3.7 billion in fiscal 2011) and the Office of Procurement Operations, which is a contracting office for a number of smaller DHS headquarters entities (peak spending of $3 billion in fiscal 2010).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was the component with the largest contractual obligations in fiscals 2005 and 2006, having spent $5.3 billion and $7.7 billion in those years, respectively.

For more:
- download the report, "U.S. Department of Homeland Security Contract Spending and the Supporting Industrial Base, 2004–2011" (.pdf)

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