Homeland insecurity


Louisiana and New Orleans aren't the only places to have eagerly gobbled up hundreds of millions of federal homeland security dollars to little or  no effect.  Today's San Antonio Express—News has a long, detailed article on similar problems in Texas homeland security and disaster response programs.  It's been four years since 9—11, and this outstanding piece should cause us to be concerned about our leadership at all levels.

Despite Texas' rapid response in housing and feeding tens of thousands of evacuees from New Louisiana, the state's overall program still has critical problems, even after lavish spending of taxpayer dollars.  As the article put it:

Texas has spent more than $1.4 billion in homeland security money on an effort that was supposed to make people safer, but the program has devolved into a massive spending spree undertaken with inadequate planning, coordination or accountability.

Apparently, things have not appreciably changed in the grant system since news of gross inefficiencies at the states and at DHS were reported last year.

There are some positive changes, though.  Local and state first responders are much better equipped than they were four years ago, and the state's emergency response training programs at the Texas Engineering Extension Center at Texas A&M University is arguably the best in the nation.  But the program has also had its share of waste, fraud and abuse, including buying routine law enforcement equipment with HLS grants, and purchases of vehicles for personal use.

At least state auditors are on the case, and the perpetrators have already been brought up on criminal charges.  Throwing more money at those who have failed us already is something that the federal government is fond of doing.  In this respect, Texas is already a step ahead of the feds by continuing to prosecute those who are responsible for this mess.

Doug Hanson   09—11—05