(by Fred Lucas, CNSNews.com) – The 9/11 Commission Report warned that when handing out homeland security grants, “Congress should not use this money as a pork barrel.”
However, an analysis of the grants going to state and local governments suggests that some of them are pork barrel projects; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) apparently has failed to issue grants based entirely on need, and it has little oversight on how the grant money is used.
For example, some “homeland security” funding has been doled out for office space, a bus, a bingo hall, and limousine service, among other “projects.”
Though the House and Senate passed a bill, signed by President Bush, to fully implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission from 2004, an analysis by the conservative Heritage Foundation concluded that the new law makes it easy in some cases for Congress to distribute the grants as pork, not as necessary projects.
Further, the report says the grant programs aren’t “matching grants.” Thus, the grants don’t provide incentives for states to invest their own money in further domestic security.
“While federal spending on homeland security has increased exponentially since 9/11, state spending on homeland security has remained almost flat as a percentage of total state appropriations,” the report said. “Federal funds should be used to supplement, not supplant, state and local spending.”
The 9/11 bill “included language prohibiting the use of grant funds to supplant state or local funds,” Dena Graziano, spokeswoman for the House Homeland Security Committee told Cybercast News Service. She said the bill also has safeguards, such as requiring each local agency to submit a report to the administrator on how the grant is being used to assure accountability.
Last month, DHS announced $1.7 billion in grants for state and local governments. However, there is virtually no oversight to prevent the funds from being spent on matters unrelated to security, said the Heritage report, written by James Carafano of Heritage and Matt Mayer of Provisum Strategies.
Earlier this year, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter ordered a review that found the state’s homeland security structure was inadequate. This came after a 2005 state audit found 13 percent of the state’s $15.8 million in homeland security grants had been misspent on such things as office space, a bus and other items.
California has received $20 million since 2003 for health preparedness. However, according to the Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit organization, California tied with Maryland, Iowa, and New Jersey for the lowest score among the 50 states in health preparedness.
Other federal grants meant for security in 2005 and 2006 went to protect a bingo hall, a limo service, a homeless shelter, and a missing persons’ initiative. …
All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2007 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. Define the following words as used in the article:
-grants, paragraph 1
-pork barrel [spending], para. 1
-matching grants, para. 5
-appropriations, para. 6
-supplement, para. 6
-supplant, para. 6
-accountability, para. 7
2. What are the two main problems with the law passed by Congress to fund the 9/11 Commission’s Homeland Security measures, according to a Heritage Foundation’s analysis?
3. a) What is the DHS?
b) The DHS grants to states are not matching grants. Why is this a problem?
4. Describe the examples of misused Homeland Security funds in Colorado and California listed in the article.
5. The Heritage report says there is virtually no oversight to prevent the funds from being spent on matters unrelated to security.
Dena Graziano, spokeswoman for the House Homeland Security Committee said that the bill has safeguards.
With whom do you agree? Why?
Read the complete Heritage report here.
The 9/11 Commission’s purpose was to provide a “full and complete accounting” of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and recommendations as to how to prevent such attacks in the future. (Click here for information on the 9/11 Commission.)
For the FY 2007 Homeland Security Grant Program report, click here.
(see page 3 for the breakdown of the areas of the grant program and page 12 for the breakdown by state of funding history from FY 2002 to 2007)
Read about the House of Representative’s Homeland Security Committee at homeland.house.gov/about/overview.asp
Read about Congressional committees at clerkkids.house.gov/congress/committees/index.html
Visit the Citizens Against Government Waste website at cagw.org for further information on pork spending
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