In the years after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Texas has grabbed at least $1.7 billion in federal Homeland Security grants, with large chunks of the money spent to beef up law enforcement communication and border security. A Ft. Worth Star-Telegram examination of thousands of purchases also found a hodgepodge of spending, some of which might have taxpayers scratching their heads: a $21 fish tank, a $24,000 latrine on wheels, and a real pork project — a hog catcher. Homeland Security paid for body bags, garbage bags, and Ziploc bags.
A report this year by the inspector general of the U.S. Homeland Security Department criticized Texas’s management of Homeland Security grants from 2006 to 2008. The audit said the state passed along Homeland Security money to local governments without adequately defined goals and objectives to strengthen preparedness and response to attacks or disasters. Texas also failed to monitor adequately how cities and counties or others getting money were performing their responsibilities, the report says. Instead, the state asked local officials to rate their own performance.