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DHS tallies up ammo purchases for Sen. Coburn

DHS detailed its massive ammunition acquisitions over the last three years to one of the key lawmakers on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on April 1.

The report, said the committee’s minority leader, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), was posted on the committee’s Website in response to repeated public requests concerning DHS’s ammunition purchases. News reports have said DHS has been buying enormous amounts of ammunition. Some reports have said the agency plans to buy over a billion rounds of ammunition over the next four to five years.

The response said the bulk purchase help the agency save money, just as buying computer equipment and information technology services in bulk do.

It also shows DHS’ purchases of ammunition in the last three fiscal years has declined overall.

“Over the past year, many of my constituents have contacted my office asking for more information about the Department of Homeland Security’s plans for purchasing large amounts of ammunition,” said Coburn.

Coburn said he officially asked DHS secretary Janet Napolitano on Nov. 13, 2012 for more information about the agency’s ammunition purchases. DHS provided a response on Feb. 3, said Coburn. “In the interest of promoting transparency and a constructive dialogue about this issue, I am posting my letter and their response,” he said on April 2.

The DHS response to Coburn’s inquiry, sent by Nelson Peacock, DHS assistant secretary for legislative affairs, shows DHS has been buying ammunition in huge quantities since at least fiscal 2010, but the total amount of ammunition has dropped.

“DHS routinely establishes strategic sourcing contracts that combine the requirements of all its components for commonly purchased goods and services such as ammunition, computer equipment and information technology services,” said Peacock.  “These strategic sourcing contracts help leverage the purchasing power of DHS to efficiently procure equipment and supplies at significantly lower costs."

The charts provided by the agency show DHS bought a total of 148 million rounds for its seven component agencies in 2010 at a cost of $47 million. In fiscal 2011, it bought 108 million rounds for $38 million. In fiscal 2012, the agency bought 103 million rounds for $36 million.

It said it has budgeted $37 million in fiscal 2013 to buy ammunition for its component agencies.

The ammunition was purchased for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB), the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), National Protection and Programs Directorate/Federal Protective Service (NPPD/FPS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and U.S. Secret Service (USSS).

DHS’ fiscal 2013 estimate for ammunition acquisitions:

  • CBP  $12,528,146
  • FLETC $5,900,000
  • NPPD/FPS $470,000
  • ICE $5,200,000
  • TSA $4,515,552
  • USCG-$7,400,000
  • USSS--$1,250,000

CBP, according to the DHS response, tops the list of its agencies using the most ammunition, but its use has dropped since 2010.

According to DHS, CBP bought 66 million rounds of ammunition for $17 million in fiscal 2010. In fiscal 2012, CBP bought 36 million rounds at a cost of $12 million. ICE was just behind CBP, but showed a slight increase in the number of rounds purchased. In fiscal 2010 it bought 25 million rounds at a cost of $7 million. In fiscal 2012, it bought 28 million rounds at a cost of $6 million.

DHS said it currently has 263 million rounds of ammunition in its inventory. CBP tops the inventory list, having 94 million rounds. USCG has 70 million, while ICE has 42 million.

DHS explained that about 70 percent of CBP ammunition is used for quarterly qualifications, mandated firearms training, advanced firearms training, as well as testing and evaluation. Twenty percent of CBP ammunition is allocated to maintaining CBP’s operational posture, it said, including rounds for duty use, as well as for maintaining CBP’s special response teams. The remaining 10 percent is dedicated to maintaining ammunition reserves at both the national and local levels, it said.