2013 U.S. Homeland Security Budget

Among other findings in this CBO report:

Funding for homeland security has dropped somewhat from its 2009 peak of $76 billion, in inflation-adjusted terms; funding for 2012 totaled $68 billion. Nevertheless, the nation is now spending substantially more than what it spent on homeland security in 2001.

Note that this is just direct spending on homeland security. This does not include DoD spending—which would include the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—and Department of Justice spending. John Mueller estimates that we have spent $1.1 trillion over the ten years between 2002 and 2011.

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 9:41 AM26 Comments


Clive Robinson October 2, 2012 9:53 AM

Perhaps it’s time the US tax payers seriously asked,

“What price peace?”

And try to evaluate the double whamy of the direct cost and the indirect cost.

v October 2, 2012 10:34 AM

Two words: opportunity cost.
What could/would the billions buy if they weren’t poured into paranoia?

Scott David Daniels October 2, 2012 10:57 AM

Seems to me the cost in reduced trust (the people’s trust of their governmental institutions) should be counted as possibly even more significant cost.

Petter October 2, 2012 11:03 AM

In Sweden the justice minister Beatrice Ask has just classified all the running costs of the Security Service (Säpo), after a newspaper revealed they spent $802,500 on a James Bond-themed party.

Now all details of Säpo’s expenses, from the amount spent on coffee to premises rental to telephone surveillance have been classified!

John Marks October 2, 2012 11:04 AM

Not to derail the comments, but I suspect that if the so-called “war on terror” had been conducted and resolved (let’s say over 3-4 years) so that people could get back to normal rather than remaining in a constant heightened paranoid alert state, today’s politics would be less extreme.

Why? Bush’s tenure virtually gave birth to the current no-compromise “with us or against us” mentality that nurtured so many of the extremist political standpoints we all suffer with today. When so much of energy over the past 11 years is focused on playing friend-or-foe, issues like government fiscal policy and individual rights don’t receive the attention they deserve. Just philosophising to myself, no harm intended, so please no flames.

Tony October 2, 2012 12:43 PM

Also not included – lost productivity for every air traveller spending 30-60 extra minutes getting through security on each flight.

Captain Obvious October 2, 2012 12:45 PM

And don’t forget the econimic costs due to people staying home where they don’t get groped, reduced tourism, etc.

BF Skinner October 2, 2012 1:05 PM

I thought everyone agreed the costs of the wars were never to be discussed and it was to be run off book. Otherwise people would freak about the size of the deficit.

NobodySpecial October 2, 2012 1:21 PM

There was an economist/Washington post (can’t find the link) article about the economic effects of 9/11

Surprise major effects, apart from the dip in airline travel, were: companies moving their R+D out of the US because of tougher immigration rules and general hassle of foreigners. A huge increase in crop pest damage as FDA inspection of imported fruit etc was taken over by DHS looking for bombs.

Carl Lumma October 2, 2012 1:34 PM

I have two comments:

  1. The phrasing of your last paragraph makes it sound like Mueller includes the cost of the wars, but he doesn’t.
  2. Mueller puts the opportunity cost of passenger delays at less than 1/3 federal h.s. spending for the ten years 2002-2011. I have a hard time believing the delays aren’t a greater expense.

Let’s see… $50KGDP/capita is about $24/hr. TSA say they screen 1.8M people a day (2012). We can estimate 6B screens during 2001-2011 (roughly consistent with BTS data over this period). TSA say their average wait time is 9min. If they doubled pre-2002 screening delays, we get an opportunity cost of about $10B. Huh. Mueller gives $100B. And I’m assuming all departures happen when people would otherwise be working. TSA may have had much longer screening delays circa 2003, I suppose.

Anybody know how long prior to departure people were recommended to arrive at an airport, circa 2000, 2002, and 2011 (say for domestic flights)?

Cheryl Chevrolet October 2, 2012 1:57 PM

$68 billion sounds so much less than $68,000,000,000.00 . A car salesman would tell me that it’s only about $200 per person: What a bargain!

jon October 2, 2012 7:01 PM

Congratulations, alQaeda. For an investment of about a half million dollars and a couple dozen operatives, you triggered the loss of perhaps two hundred thousand (mainly innocent) lives and trillions of dollars in unnecessary expense. Quite the return for your efforts.

Of course, you couldn’t have done it all yourselves. You had a great ally in the officials of the US government, whose inaction helped facilitate 9-11, and whose panicked response and venal rush to use this disaster to advance their own agenda, helped advance your cause beyond any rational expectations.

What a direct attack could never have accomplished, the governments of advanced democracies took it upon themselves to roll back free speech, personal liberty, unfettered travel, open discourse, suborn the rule of law and evidence, militarize security, and burden the populace with additional costs, intrusions, and hundreds of thousands of new government employees. On our own, we moved vastly closer to the close minded, intolerant, superstitious, feudal theocracy that is your goal. Well done.

moo October 2, 2012 8:56 PM



“We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Because fearful people allow their governments to turn all tyrannical and do all this shit to them, just to keep them “safe”.

Those who would sacrifice their personal liberty for the illusion of safety don’t deserve either.

moo October 2, 2012 9:12 PM

Unrelated… There’s lots to criticize about the TSA, so I love it when something like this shows up:

Journalists do an experiment to see if high-value items will get stolen when checked in bags or left behind at a TSA checkpoint. And one of them, an iPad left behind at a checkpoint, is quietly pocketed by the TSA employee! They track its location to his house and confront him on camera.

Anon October 2, 2012 11:21 PM

Bruce should reread the CBO report. Their numbers do include some DoD spending, although not all DoD spending.

supersaurus October 3, 2012 3:43 AM


amen++. that sound you hear is the founders rolling in their graves while watching the freedoms they fought and died for disappearing behind a fog of jingoism.

Northern Realist October 3, 2012 12:28 PM

@David — Can’t help THINKING the bad guys won??? Where have you been for the last decade — they won this a LONG time ago.

NobodySpecial October 3, 2012 12:29 PM

@supersaurus – remember the founders were a bunch of terrorists.
They are probably thinking – if the British had imposed this level of intrusion and surveillance we wouldn’t have got away with the revolution.

Chuck October 4, 2012 7:46 AM

It would be useful to subtract out the $$ for the “non-war on terror” portions of the DHS budget before getting too apoplectic- or throwing out babies with bathwater. A lot of the activity and costs for customs, border patrol, immigration, coast guard and FEMA for example wold be there no matter what umbrella agency was there or not. TSA on the other hand….

Anon October 4, 2012 9:17 PM


The CBO report makes that point explicit: “Many activities that are counted today in the homeland security budget existed long before terrorism became a national concern. For example, for decades, the Border Patrol; Coast Guard; Secret Service; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives performed
many of the same missions that they perform today. A significant portion of the budget for each of those agen
cies is now included in the homeland security budget.”

TB October 16, 2012 3:36 PM

Reading about Sweden classifying their budget, and looking at the US doing similar… how does that add security? If North Korea knows the US is spending $1 billion at the NSA, does that really help NK or any adversary in any way? If anything you’d think the US would tell foreign nations how much we spend to overwhelm them….Don’t even try to crack our codes because we spend $500 million a year on them.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.