Home / Government / Articles / How the Department of Homeland Security is budgeting 20 years after Sept. 11

Days after the September 11, 2001 attacks, President George W. Bush created the Office of Homeland Security to oversee anti-terrorism efforts within the US. In 2002, the president proposed the office become a cabinet-level department and bring four primary federal government responsibilities under its umbrella: border and transportation security; emergency preparedness and response; countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats; and cybersecurity.

Twenty years after the attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has an $87 billion budget, 89% higher than its initial 2003 budget when accounting for inflation. During that time, how the department budgeted its agencies varied.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the largest segment of DHS. With $26.5 billion allocated in 2021 to this disaster response arm, FEMA is responsible for 30% of the department's budget. That is up from 17% in 2003, when the previously independent agency had a $7.6 billion budget. The agency had 13,400 full-time equivalent employees in 2021.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the second-largest arm of DHS. The law enforcement agency is responsible for border control at airports, both land borders, and other points of entry. The agency employed 62,600 employees in 2021.

CBP is 19% or $16.2 billion of the 2021 budget, up 87% from $7.6 billion in 2003. Immigration inspection and the Border Patrol were previously under the Treasury Department.

The US Coast Guard has the third-largest share in the department's budget. With 50,377 civilian and military employees, the hybrid branch of the US armed forces also functions as a law enforcement and intelligence agency focused on the US coastline.

The Coast Guard received $13 billion in 2021, 15% of the department's budget. In 2003, the Coast Guard received $7.8 billion and made up 20% of the department's budget. The Coast Guard was also part of the Treasury Department before joining DHS.

Prior to the September 11 attacks, the Treasury Department oversaw airport security. The Transportation Security Administration was created by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act in November 2001 to staff airport checkpoints. The TSA employed 55,200 people in 2001 with a budget of $8.4 billion. Its 10% share of the DHS budget in 2021 is down from its 20% share in 2003 when it received $6.9 billion.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received $8.3 billion in the DHS budget in 2021, up 73% from its $4.8 billion allotment in 2003. ICE employed 21,300 in 2021 and is responsible for investigating non-citizen people for removal as well as running transnational criminal investigations.

The remaining $14.4 billion or 17% of the 2021 budget is split between various agencies, initiatives, or administrations. This includes Citizenship and Immigration Services ($4.2 billion), the Secret Service ($2.7 billion).

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Budgets, FY2003-FY2022

All dollar figures are adjusted to 2021 levels.