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Report: Spending hasn't resulted in better homeland security

WASHINGTON - Since Sept. 11, 2001, state and local governments have received some $30 billion in grants from the federal government to improve their homeland security capabilities. But that money hasn't necessarily bought security, according to a new report from the Center for Public Integrity and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The report, released Wednesday, examines a range of questions surrounding the nation's homeland security infrastructure, including what it terms the "bewildering patchwork of congressional committees that oversee homeland security."

But it also focuses on state and local governments' role in emergency preparedness, finding fault with the way federal money has been spent and homeland security plans have been executed.

In California, for instance, the report examined hundreds of audits and found "scores of instances of wasteful spending, purchasing violations, error-prone accounting, and shoddy oversight at agencies across the state during the years immediately following 9/11."

Those failures have current and future implications, the report says.

"The chaos that surrounded homeland security spending in California raises new questions about safeguards as Washington proceeds to directly hand the state and those same communities an estimated $465.2 million in economic stimulus funds for public safety programs as part of President Obama's attempt to save the nation's beleaguered economy," it says.

A common challenge for all states, meanwhile, has been creating communications networks that will allow first responders from different agencies to talk on the same frequencies.

States and localities have received at least $4.3 billion in federal grant money to improve emergency communications - more than for any other homeland security initiative, according to the report. But states and localities in some cases have purchased faulty equipment and failed to coordinate their plans, and "results have failed to live up to expectations," the report found.

- Stateline.org

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