In the years after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Texas has grabbed at least $1.7 billion in federal Homeland Security grants, with large chunks of the money spent to beef up law enforcement communication and border security.For the life of me I can't find the audit online, and the Startlegram failed to link to it. (If one of you finds it, dear readers, please pass it along.) Grits has criticized these grants as wasteful, so I'm scarcely surprised to read that assessment. One strongly suspects that state border security grants are overseen with even less rigor.
But a Star-Telegram examination of thousands of purchases also found a hodgepodge of spending, some of which might have taxpayers scratching their heads: a $21 fish tank in Seguin, a $24,000 latrine on wheels in Fort Worth, and a real pork project -- a hog catcher in Liberty County.
Homeland Security paid for body bags, garbage bags and Ziploc bags.
If taxpayers had a say-so, they might have gone along with some purchases, such as $24,012 in body armor for the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority. But what about the two 2011 Camaros, each $30,884, used in Kleberg County border enforcement?
A report this year by the inspector general of the U.S. Homeland Security Department criticized the state's management of Homeland Security grants from 2006 to 2008. While the audit showed that the state was generally efficient in administering the grant programs, it said the state passed along Homeland Security money to local governments without adequately defined goals and objectives to strengthen preparedness and response to attacks or disasters.
The state also failed to adequately monitor how cities and counties or others getting money were performing their responsibilities, the report says. Instead, the state asked local officials to rate their own performance. The audit recommended that the state develop goals, milestones and work tasks to assess and improve that performance.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
State oversight of homeland security grants criticized in federal audit
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram broke some new ground on Sunday with a story by Darren Barbee voicing federal criticisms of the state's management of homeland security grants. The story opened: