We’ve all heard the old phrase, “a day late and a dollar short.” When we’re talking about the federal government, the numbers climb much higher.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will be allocating $20 million in grants to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The announcement comes a full five fiscal years after appropriations began to implement the NICS Improvement Amendments of 2007, a law passed by Congress with support from all sides in the gun control debate, including the gun industry. It was intended to facilitate improvements in the NICS database, primarily by adding records dealing with mental health disqualifications.
In the fiscal years 2009-2013, Congress “authorized” the expenditure of $875 million dollars to implement the improvements. But government spending is a two-step dance, and Congress must also “appropriate” funds before they can be spent. Of the $875 million in authorized expenditures, only $51.5 million was actually “appropriated” – less than 6 percent of the total.