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Texas has Problems with Homeland Security Grants

Sunday, January 09, 2005

An audit of Homeland Security money spent in Texas has shown the state is misusing almost $600 million dollars in grant money. This includes equipment purchased for non-security related activities as well as purchases where a conflict of interest was involved. The report said that the Texas Engineering Extension Service, which oversees the grant program, has no way of enforcing whether the money is spent appropriately. The audit’s findings corroborate allegations made in a September report by the Dallas Morning News.

The audit’s findings corroborate allegations made in a September report by the Dallas Morning News.

Perhaps the biggest story is that of a misused trailer. This trailer, bought with grant money was purchased as emergency equipment. Since it has been purchased, the “equipment” trailer has been used to take lawnmowers to lawnmower drag races, help deputies and their girlfriends move, and import cheap labor from Mexico. In once instance, deputies accepted $80,000 to take 400 cases of beef from Texarkana to Atlanta, GA. The same agency that bought the trailer also has a grant pending for a ’77 Trans Am, a cowboy hat and a moustache so they can get to the site of a terrorist attack more quickly.

The “equipment” trailer has been used to take lawnmowers to lawnmower drag races

While Texas would be well advised to start checking up on how the grant money is spent, they should be careful not to become overly zealous. Last month, an AP article lamented the fortunes of Sheriff Dan Mack of Hamilton County, South Dakota. Sheriff Mack had purchased a Dodge Durango with Homeland Security grant money, and was prohibited from using the SUV for police work not directly related to a terrorist attack.

As a result of this report, it is recommended that six more full time auditors, nicknamed “Smokeys” should be hired to monitor the program. The Texas Engineering Extensions Service agrees with the recommendations. For the time being, the office will require some grant recipients to regularly report on how they use equipment purchased with grant money.


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