More than 80% of federal funds to help localities prepare for terrorism is stuck in bureaucratic channels, and much of what was spent has been of questionable use in fighting terrorism, says the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. The Los Angeles Times reports that the panel called the system for distributing $6.3 billion flawed from the outset because it failed to ensure that money would be directed to areas where the threats were greatest. “The system has provided small counties across the country with relatively large awards of terrorism preparedness money, while major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Chicago struggle to address their needs in a near-constant heightened alert environment,” the report found.
Among “numerous examples of questionable spending” was $30,000 to help buy a defibrillator for a high school in Lake County, Tenn. A local official said it would be good to have it on hand during the district basketball tournament.
Rep. Christopher Cox, committee’s chairman, has introduced legislation to reform the system by allocating funds based on the risk of attack and the magnitude of potential damage.
Some states were cited as models of efficiency. In New York, because the state set deadlines for local governments to submit plans, localities had spent between 65% and 80% of the funds available.