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Homeland Security Spending Marked by Waste, Shoddy Oversight

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Posted on Sep 13, 2009
California Emergency Management Agency

Several communities in California used homeland security grants to buy large heavy-rescue and hazardous materials-response trucks. Other truck purchases were on the smaller side like this golf cart in Long Beach.

By G.W. Schulz, California Watch

(Page 4)

Cynthia Chimonyo, emergency planning coordinator for the Oakland Fire Department, said the city wasn’t aware public transit officials had not issued formal bids for purchases, but AC Transit has since been instructed to follow procurement guidelines.

The city’s grant office was severely understaffed during the early years, added Renee Domingo, an emergency services manager for the fire department. There was only a single person in charge of Oakland’s entire program and no one available to carry out an inventory of millions of dollars in equipment.

So did all of these new homeland security purchases make the state safer? That’s difficult to tell, according to Inspector General Skinner. His federal auditors found that California couldn’t evaluate improvements in its ability to respond to disasters and thus demonstrate how the grants have made a difference, a conclusion also contained in several other watchdog reports published this year that were critical of the Department of Homeland Security’s major grant programs in general.

California’s preparedness goals weren’t specific or measureable, the audit declared, which meant the state “was not able to assess first responder capabilities or justify continued grants.”

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In his response letter, California Emergency Management Agency secretary Bettenhausen called the finding “subjective” and cited as an example of success the state’s swift-water rescue efforts, which improved after shortcomings in such missions were identified. According to Bettenhausen: “California has gone above and beyond what is required at the federal level in the measurement of preparedness and capabilities.”

California Watch is a new reporting unit started by the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. Last year, CIR began examining the effectiveness of America’s homeland security efforts in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity. To read more go to www.californiawatch.org.


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By bogi666, September 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

DHS is and was created as a shell game for the purpose of corruption by contracting its funding to private sources which are unaccountable without transparency.

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By Richard, September 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was working for the USCG on active duty at the time.  The CAPT I was working for spent the money on new leather chairs for his conference room and the entire unit got flat screen monitors (except for my group, but that is a longer story).

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By voice of truth, September 16, 2009 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

And these are the people you want to trust your healthcare to???  Really??

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By Gloria Picchetti, September 16, 2009 at 6:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Overspending? Waste? What did you expect?

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By homas, September 15, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

I worked for a privately owned psych hospital in D.C. that used Home Security funds to purchase and install cameras in the hallways.

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By ardee, September 14, 2009 at 5:00 am Link to this comment

Play Donkey Kong for Peace!

Bureaucratic boondoggles are the norm, in every facet of government. The entire Homeland Security Dept was a huge mistake, as was the Bush Administration and as is the Obama Administration as well….

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By ChaoticGood, September 13, 2009 at 11:00 pm Link to this comment

When NYC was attacked on 911 we retaliated on the “enemy” by going shopping, invading Afganistan and letting Osama escape, then we lost interest in Osama and then invaded Iraq, which had nothing to do with 911 and had no WMD’s.  Then we put the Iraqi national guard on our payroll so they wouldn’t shoot at us anymore and then we declared “victory” and went back to our barracks.

With that type of “logic” in operation, it is perfectly “logical” to buy firetrucks, gas masks and radio equipment for cities in the midwest, which are extremely unlikely to ever be the targets of Al Queda radicals. Why put in radiological sensors at our ports or increase security at our chemical plants, when you can buy the favors of your local politicians with that money.

Given our track record, the next “logical” step in our war on terror should be to buy video games for everyone in Pakistan.  Within a few weeks, the Taliban will be so addicted to “Donkey Kong” that they will lose the will to fight and will just give up.

Just remember, “Up is Down”, “War is Peace” and “Standing still is moving forward”.  So says the Department of Homeland Security who brought you the “color coded” lifestyle meter.

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politicky's avatar

By politicky, September 13, 2009 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

The “War on Terror” and “War on Drugs?”  Just another excuse for men in law enforcement to engage in turf wars and pissing contests.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, September 13, 2009 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

The jury of public opinion is still out on “hijackers” destroying the WTC.

I would rather see ambulances, fire trucks, rescue equipment and radios given to our first responders here in America than that money spent on tanks and aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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