Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mitigated some potential effects of sequestration on its mission in fiscal year 2013, including employee furloughs, by using its existing authorities to transfer and reprogram funding into various salaries and expenses accounts. In addition, DHS reported that prior to fiscal year 2013 it had implemented cost savings initiatives, including a department-wide efficiency review, which helped to assuage some effects of sequestration in fiscal year 2013. Nevertheless, as a result of sequestration, components reported effects to their operations.  For example, from fiscal years 2012 to 2013, the U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard) observed about a 29 percent reduction in the number of migrant interdictions at sea, a 24 percent reduction in the total pounds of drugs removed, and about 6,000 fewer vessels boarded and inspected. DHS officials stated that spending reductions in future years could affect the department's operations, performance, and services to the public. Further, DHS officials expressed concerns that such reductions could affect the department's ability to continue to meet mission priorities, as well as employee morale, in the long term.

In May 2014, we reported more in-depth information on planning, implementation and effects of sequestration at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component within DHS. See GAO, 2013 Sequestration: Selected Federal Agencies Reduced Some Services and Investments, While Taking Short-Term Actions to Mitigate Effects, GAO-14-452 (Washington, D.C.: May 28, 2014).