The St. Louis Post Dispatch published an interesting story yesterday about a state audit of homeland security activities in Missouri:
Missouri’s homeland security program relies on law enforcement agencies that still can’t communicate with each other, protective equipment that remains stored in warehouses, and a terrorist-monitoring center that’s shut down at night and on weekends.
Those were the chief findings of an audit released Thursday by state Auditor Claire McCaskill….
The findings show that Missouri lags behind many of its Midwestern neighbors in preparedness when it comes to homeland security and intelligence monitoring, McCaskill said.
The audit covered the state’s two most recent fiscal years, 2004 and 2005, ending last June 30. All but six months were during Holden’s tenure.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Missouri has received $175 million for homeland security measures but has spent only $72 million, McCaskill said. The audit said that some money had not been well-spent.
It noted that the state has distributed almost 19,000 pieces of protective suits or equipment to local law enforcement around the state. But McCaskill said that most equipment was not readily available and still in boxes stored in warehouses.
This is a solid report, and a model for what all states should be doing to audit and assess their homeland security performance. Too many states are not transparent when it comes to the questions of what are they doing to prepare and how are they spending federal homeland security grant money – I’ve run into many dead-ends trying to research these topics over the past few years. States have the right and duty to complain about DHS, but they need to also be accountable for their actions. Any lack of public accountability creates risks that states are lagging in their efforts or spending money unwisely, both of which have the effect of undermining security.