Holding the Government Accountable

Halt DHS Procurement while Private Detention Centers Evaluated

The Project On Government Oversight asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to pause procurement and renewal of contracts while the agency re-evaluates its reliance on private detention centers.

The Homeland Security Advisory Board is reviewing whether private detention centers advance good public policy or are good for federal taxpayers, yet procurement plans, solicitations, and contracts are continuing.

POGO’s policy counsel Liz Hempowicz and executive director Danielle Brian wrote Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson requesting a freeze on these activities until the review is completed.

The DHS decision to re-evaluate the use of private detention centers comes after the announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that it is ending its reliance on private prisons. POGO is encouraged by both developments. POGO highlighted the troubling track record of DHS’s and its Immigration Customs Enforcement’s private detention centers, suggesting that DHS follow the Justice Department’s example.

DHS has requested information and bids from contractors who are interested in operating a family detention center or an adult detention center. If this continues, the DHS could be locked into contracts for private detention centers even if the advisory board determines that they are not a good use of taxpayer funds, as the DOJ has already determined.