I provided you a response from the Department of Homeland Security on Saturday concerning the large number of rounds of ammunition that they are soliciting for. I continue to leave it up to the reader to determine if they think DHS’ response is truthful or not. However, their response came just two days after they solicited for 360,000 more .40 caliber hollow point bullets. DHS told us these are for training purposes and, in fact, these are being sent to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico, which is the same location that 240,000 hollow points were sent to last month. However, I want to provide you with more details that DHS has put in print and ask some questions.
The current solicitation can be found on the Federal Business Opportunities website and you will notice that the “Bid MUST be good for 30 calendar days after close of Buy.”
Several congressmen have pushed DHS on these purchases, which resulted in the response from DHS, including fifteen that banded together to get answers. Some of which were not addressed.
With that in mind, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok) says that DHS has not purchased anymore ammunition than they have previously. “I think if you go through it (the purchases) without fear and actually make a judgment, I think they’re doing exactly what they need to do.” Coburn has a good history of pointing out the wasteful spending of government and I don’t believe for a second that he is attempting to cover for DHS.
However, that does not explain why within the past year there have been solicitations for “up to” nearly 2 billion rounds when according to Peggy Dixon, spokeswoman for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga, her training center and others like it that are run by DHS use as many as 15 million rounds every year, mostly on shooting ranges and in training exercises. The argument that it keeps costs down doesn’t make sense if you are only purchasing between ten and twenty percent of what you are soliciting for.
Coburn’s comments come after he wrote to DHS back in November of 2012. In that letter Sen. Coburn asked five questions:
- How many rounds of ammunition has the Department purchased during each of the last three fiscal years? How much did these acquisitions cost?
- Does DHS plan to purchase more ammunition in the current fiscal year? How much is budgeted for ammunitions acquisitions?
- How many rounds of ammunition does the Department currently have in its inventory? How are these rounds allocated to each of its agencies?
- Please describe how DHS (and its component agencies) plan to use this ammunition. How many rounds are allocated for training? How many are allocated for operational use? How many rounds are allocated for other purposes?
- Please detail approximately how many rounds DHS and its component agencies have used for training and operational purposes during the past three fiscal years.
DHS responded to Coburn in a letter and indicated their purchases were actually going down. DHS points out that 148 million rounds of ammo were purchased in 2010, with that number going down to 108 million in 2011 and 103 million in 2012.
The DHS letter contains the following for the past three fiscal years:
The legend for the various agencies mentioned are as follows: CBP=US Customs and Border Protection; FLETC=Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; NPPD/FPS=National Protection and Programs Directorate/ Federal Protective Service; ICE=US Immigration and Customs Administration; TSA=Transportation Security Administration; USCG=US Coast Guard; USSS=US Secret Service.
In answer to plans for purchasing more ammunition in the current fiscal year, DHS did not answer. However, they did provide a budget which is almost $700,000 more than FY2012.
Now pay close attention here. An inventory was provided among the agencies, as of November 20, 2012. This would be shortly after fiscal year 2013 began on October 1, 2012:
DHS then provides how the ammunition is used by the agencies under its authority.
CBP: Approximately 70 percent of the CBP ammunition is used for quarterly qualifications, mandated firearms training, advanced firearms training, as well as testing and evaluation. Twenty percent of the CBP ammunition is allocated to maintaining CBP’s operational posture. This includes 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.
FLETC: All FLETC ammunition is purchased, distributed, and used for law enforcement training. No ammunition is allocated for operational or other use.
NPPD/FPS: FPS allocates 1,000 rounds of ammunition per firearm per year for quarterly qualifications and training, to included advanced firearms training exercises, as well as ammunition to support law enforcement operations.
ICE: ICE allocates 1,000 rounds of ammunition per firearm per year for quarterly qualifications and training, to include advanced firearms training exercises, special response team training, and ammunition to support law enforcement operations.
TSA: Approximately 21 million rounds of TSA’s current inventory are reduced-hazard, lead-free frangible training ammunition, which is used exclusively for training. The remaining rounds are duty ammunition, which hare used for both training and operational purposes. Overall, approximately 35 percent of TSA ammunition is allocated for operational use (qualifications and duty carry). Fewer than 100,000 rounds are used for other purposes annually, including firearms testing and evaluation.
USCG: USCG allocates its ammunition inventory for Non-Combat Expenditure Allowance (NCEA) and ship-fill purposes. The NCEA, available for both shore units and cutters, is used for training and for non-defense operations including maritime law enforcement operations. USCG ship-fill allowances are specific to cutters and are designed for use on defense operations.
USSS: USSS plans to use the above mentioned ammunition for training, research, and operational use as needed to maintain professional firearms proficiency. Based on a review of recent historical data, USSS plans to allocate approximately 60 percent of the ammunition for training, 38 percent for operational use, and 2 percent for quality control testing of all ammunition and function firing of all new and repaired weapons.
Finally DHS answered how many rounds they allocated over the past three fiscal years for training and operational purposes.
Here are some things to note. First, we are not told hold much of this ammunition has been exhausted from year to year. For instance, you will note that just into FY2013 they claimed a total inventory of nearly 264 million rounds and yet had still budgeted to spend over $37 million in the current fiscal year on ammunition.
Let me also make a comparison here. Take the numbers above and let’s total them out by department per fiscal year.
|DHS Components||Total Round Purchased In FY2010-2012||Total Inventory|
Now I ask you, what is wrong with this picture? Over the past three fiscal years, DHS has purchased over 361 million rounds of ammunition, according to them, but they still have nearly 264 million rounds in inventory at the beginning of FY2013 and are ready to spend $37,263,698 on more ammunition this year. In other words, at the end of three fiscal years they still maintained 73% of the total number of rounds purchased over the prior three years. While I can certainly understand maintaining a small percentage of supply, I don’t understand the amount still on hand after these purchases. It could be that they had larger quantities before 2010.
However, DHS has claimed that they do not maintain ammunition, but use it. The numbers say something different.
Granted, I do not have information prior to FY2010, which would greatly help is ascertaining what exactly is going on with ammunition purchases, there is one question that stand out to me above others. Since DHS has nearly 264 million rounds on hand, why do they need to purchase ammunition at all for at least two years? After all, in 2012, they only purchased a little over 103 million rounds.
Also, while I understand the need to carry hollow points, for training full metal jacket ammunition is just fine and should be at a lower cost to tax payers. Additionally, all of this should be questioned in light of DHS releasing aggrevated felons, claiming it was a result of sequestration.
While these numbers are not the 1.6 billion that have been solicited, they are still large quantities of ammunition. DHS could not provide me with the information to go further back than FY2010, which would be necessary to give an completely accurate account of their purchases over the past decade to compare with their current inventory. If anyone has that information or where it can be obtained, I’ll revise this article. However, I wonder if there should not be an independent audit of the ammunition purchased. What say you?