Administration to seek $36.2 billion for homeland department

The Homeland Security Department budget request for fiscal 2004 will be $36.2 billion, according to information released today during secretary Tom Ridge's visit with future department employees in Miami.

The administration's budget request will include $41.3 billion for domestic defense and security overall, including spending by other agencies, the department said. The combined budgets of the 22 agencies that will make up the department were estimated at $37.2 billion for fiscal 2003, when the department's founding legislation was enacted.

In a fact sheet issued today, the department did not break out IT expenditures or any other categories in the homeland security budget. Ridge is scheduled to present budget details on Feb. 3, as are other federal officials.

Separately, the department announced a reorganization of its border security agencies, which fall under the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security. Under current plans, the border agencies, which include the Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, will enter the department on March 1.

The reorganization plan described in the fact sheet will create two border agencies: the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, both of which will be part of the directorate. 'These two new bureaus will break down barriers to communication and provide a direct line of authority to the department's headquarters,' the department said.

The Bureau of Customs and Border Inspection will bring together about 30,000 employees, including 17,000 inspectors from four agencies: INS, the Border Patrol, Agricultural Quarantine Inspection and canine enforcement. The Commissioner of Customs will lead the bureau and report to the undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security, Asa Hutchinson.

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will have about 14,000 employees, including 5,500 criminal investigators, 4,000 workers in immigration and deportation services, and 1,500 Federal Protective Service personnel. It will include the Customs Service's air and marine enforcement activities.

'By unifying previously fragmented investigation functions, the new bureau will enhance information sharing with the FBI and develop stronger relationships with the U.S. Attorneys Office,' the department said. It will cooperate with a third agency, the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which the Homeland Security Act of 2002 created to administer immigration and naturalization benefits.

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