By Pete Kasperowicz
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) have asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the weapons and ammunition purchases of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The request is the result of months of criticism about DHS' plans to buy 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next several years. Many Republicans have highlighted DHS' plans as an enormous expense, although DHS says the goal is to save money by buying in bulk.
Still, such a large purchase has made some conservatives nervous that the government is building up its stockpile of ammunition, at the same time that the Obama administration is looking to put limits on gun ownership.
Some have also noted that DHS plans to buy thousand of hollow-point rounds, and that DHS' total purchase would give it a roughly 15-year supply.
Duncan left open the possibility that DHS' planned purchases will be made for legitimate reasons, but said DHS has failed to communicate why.
"[O]ne thing that is certain is that DHS has done a poor job communicating with Congress, the media and the American people on this issue," Duncan said Tuesday. "That is why I've asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an independent review into these ammunition purchases, and why I will continue to pressure DHS to be more transparent about this topic.
Duncan and McCaul asked the GAO to compare its current ammo purchases with those made it the past, how much excess ammo DHS has, and how the department ensures that it buys weapons and ammo in the most efficient way possible.
An aide to Duncan said GAO has indicated it would start the process of conducting the analysis "relatively quickly."
DHS has tried to answer many of these questions about ammunition purchases over the last few weeks. Earlier in the week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) posted a letter he received from DHS that said DHS ammo purchases have fallen off since fiscal year 2010, and that it plans to spend $37 million on roughly 100 million rounds of ammo in the current fiscal year.
Duncan also noted that DHS put out a summary of its ammo purchases in late March. That summary said ammo purchases are largely used to keep its roughly 72,000 armed agents trained on their weapons.
DHS said its ammunition purchases have remained constant since 2006.