In CQ Homeland Security”s second installment of its series asking homeland experts about lessons from 2011 and the path ahead, David Olive offers insight on where homeland dollars should be spent in 2012.

With the new year beginning, CQ has asked dozens of homeland security experts in the public, private and academic sectors to weigh in on the lessons of 2011 and what 2012 holds in store. In this second installment of a three-part series, respondents answered the question “In a tight budget environment, what homeland-related activities should Congress look at cutting in the coming year? What must be preserved, or see increased funding?”

David Olive: There will never be enough money to provide solutions for all of the vulnerabilities our nation faces. The tendency of Congress to fund “point solutions” rather than take a serious look at a “systems approach” hampers the ability of DHS stakeholders to make smart decisions about how to find the right balance in homeland security funding.

For example, I have not been shy about questioning the cost effectiveness of the CBP’s use of Predator UAVs because there are other, smaller (and cheaper) air platforms that more closely “fit” CBP and Border Patrol operations. I believe DHS could save millions of dollars and gain increased effectiveness by using air assets to “track and trace” illegal border crossers instead of using the Predator for a “persistent surveillance” mission — a mission that the Predator is not all that well suited to perform.

I question whether the funding for the current BioWatch program is being well spent and believe that if even 10 percent of that funding were to go toward prototyping new detection technology or creating new DNA-based vaccines which can be produced almost “on demand,” the cost savings would more than pay for the investments.


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