Agencies in the Washington, D.C., area have not spent the majority of their $145 million in federal antiterrorism grants over the past three years, including funds for such critical items as hospital beds and protective gear for rescue workers, reports the Washington Post. Homeland security spending across the nation remains bogged down by administrative problems, back orders for equipment and long timelines to implement new technology, such as communications systems. the Washington area, with a spending rate of 17 percent, ranks last compared with the 50 states, according to data obtained by The Washington Post and CBS’s “60 Minutes.” The national spending average is 44 percent.
Local authorities said the ranking is misleading because it does not reflect that they have committed 80 percent of their funds, or $115 million. The spending pattern demonstrates a major flaw in a homeland security grant funding system that gives out cash first and requires plans later, said Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Cox wants to award more money to certain jurisdictions based on threat assessments and require states and regions to coordinate plans before applying for aid. A Washington Post review of the spending found cases of duplication, waste, and diversion of federal aid to pay for such items as leather jackets for police, a summer jobs program for D.C. teenagers, lucrative consulting contracts for political figures, and redundant purchases of emergency command centers and vehicles across the region.