April 24, 2013

Vol. 7   No. 10

John Cornyn on DHS Ammo Purchase

I would like to share the following email I received from Senator John Cornyn, in response to my question concerning ammunition purchases by the Department of Homeland Security (My highlights have been added to the original email).

Dear Mr. Arnold:

Thank you for contacting me regarding reports that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is purchasing large amounts of ammunition and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.  I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on these matters.

As you may know, government agencies that post solicitations for ammunition include various law enforcement divisions that are authorized to train with, and carry, firearms. DHS and its components which include Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard regularly purchase ammunition for these purposes.

Some reports have mistakenly indicated that DHS is purchasing 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. This figure is taken from an option contract, a type of contract commonly used by the government to provide flexibility in the quantity of goods to be procured and to assure the availability of resources. According to DHS, the agency utilizes these contracts in an effort to ensure that the government receives the best price for goods and services.

At this time, DHS is only exercising approximately seven percent of the option under its contract. DHS has reported that it purchased approximately 103 million rounds of ammunition in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, at a cost of approximately $36 million. It further reported that in FY 2012 alone, DHS components used approximately 116 million rounds for training and operational purposes. DHS estimates it will spend approximately $37 million on ammunition in FY 2013.

Reports also have mistakenly indicated that DHS is acquiring thousands of MRAPs. In reality, DHS has recently acquired 16 MRAPs. According to DHS, these vehicles will be used by its Special Response Teams for sensitive criminal investigations. It is important to note that these 16 vehicles are armored but not armed.

I understand the concerns of Texans regarding the use of taxpayer dollars and possible misappropriations of DHS resources. I also have concerns that DHS should not be securing the option to purchase large amounts of ammunition if they have no intention of doing so, because this practice only serves to trigger legitimate concerns about government waste, abuse, and malfeasance. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to provide tough oversight for all federal law enforcement functions, to ensure that DHS is spending taxpayer dollars wisely, and to protect against artificially reducing the supply of ammunition for private citizens.

I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

United States Senator

517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856

I would like to publicly thank Senator Cornyn for his response.

Practice, Practice, Practice


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