2005 Guide to Grants: DHS Inspector General: Grants management needs improvement

Grants management
DHS manages a variety of grant programs, totaling approximately $10 billion in obligations for 2003, which provide money for disaster preparedness, prevention, response, andrecovery. Significant shortcomings have been identified in many ofthese programs in the past, including the potential for overlap and duplicate funding. In an effort to achieve better coordination, the Office for Domestic Preparedness and Office of State and Local Coordination were consolidated into the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness (SLGCP). That office isresponsible for 25 preparedness grant programs, including firstresponder grants.
However, much work remains to be done. In March 2004, the OIG issued An Audit of Distributing and Spending “FirstResponder” Grant Funds, OIG-04-15. The report identified problems atthe state and local level that were causing grant fund distribution and spending to be slow. The problems included too many large grant programs that had to be processed in too short a time with inadequatestate and local staffing; a lack of federal guidance on preparedness standards; complex and time consuming state and local planning processes; and burdensome state and local procurement and grantapproval processes. The department is taking action to minimize stateand local governments’ problems and provide more assistance. Forexample, DHS developed a grants management technical assistance programfor state and local grantees.
On March 15, 2004, Secretary Ridge formed the Task Force on State and Local Homeland Security Funding to examine whyfederal funds were not reaching local governments and first respondersin a timely fashion. In June 2004, the Task Force issued its report,and DHS officials said that it is incorporating the recommended actionsin the Task Force report to produce measurable progress in grant funddistribution and spending.
The OIG is currently conducting audits of individual states’ management of first responder grants and analyzingthe effectiveness of DHS’ system for collecting data on state and local governments’ risk, vulnerability, and needs assessments. The OIG willcontinue its audits of the department’s disaster relief programs, and,in FY 2005, will conduct audits of state and local governments’ use offirst responder grant funds.
In assessing DHS grant management operations,the advice of the 9/11 Commission is pertinent. It recommended,“[F]ederal homeland security assistance should not remain a program for general revenue sharing. It should supplement state and local resources based on the risks or vulnerabilities that merit additional support.”In the OIG’s recent draft report on the DHS Port Security Grant program, the OIG reported that DHS grant making for this sector of national infrastructure was not well coordinated with the IAIP [Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection] Office of Infrastructure Protection, did not account for infrastructureprotection priorities in the application review process, and resultedin funding of projects with low scores in the review process. Also, theDHS does not have a strong grant evaluation processin place by whichto address post-award administration issues, including measuringprogress in accomplishing DHS’ grant objectives.
Department officials note that SLGCP, theUnited States Coast Guard, the Department of Transportation’s MaritimeAdministration (MARAD), and TSA are partners in the Request forApplication development as well as the evaluation panels for the PortSecurity Grant Program.
As the lead agency for port security, theUnited States Coast Guard has been working with IAIP on port-widecriticality assessments. The Port Security Grant Program requiresapplicants to have completed a security vulnerability assessment asrequired in the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA). The UnitedStates Coast Guard has defined the criteria for the structure of therequired vulnerability/risk assessments under MTSA. Departmentofficials said that in FY 2005, SLGCP will involve IAIP’s Office ofInfrastructure Protection appropriately in the Port Security GrantProgram. Department officials also said that staffing is inadequate tosupporting the administration of the Port Security Grant Program’spost-award phase. Staff developed a report to be submitted by thegrantee at the end of the project period. This data will provide broadstatistics demonstrating how the grant award funding has reduced thegrantees’ risk as identified by their security vulnerabilityassessment. Department officials said that in FY 2005, SLGCP plans toincrease staff to allow for site visits and improved oversight ofgrant-funded projects. HST

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