CQ Homeland Security (subscription only) provides two more examples of the “garbage-in, garbage out” phenomenon for the homeland security grant allocation process:
By the departmentâ€™s account, there are zero military bases in the Las Vegas region. But Nellis Air Force base is within the 10-mile buffer zone the department considers the Las Vegas region. In addition, the Hoover Dam is 30 miles outside Las Vegas city limits, but the department does not include it as a critical asset in its assessment of the Las Vegas region. However, if something happens at the Hoover Dam, the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will be the agencies to respond, said Nevadaâ€™s homeland security adviser Giles Vanderhoof. â€œIt may not be within the 10 miles, but guess who is going to have to respond if something is going on there,â€ he said. The department Friday would not respond to requests for explanations.
In the departmentâ€™s assessment of San Diegoâ€™s geographic risks, it says the city has more than 500,000 border crossers a year. However, that number is slightly off, said the cityâ€™s Homeland Security Director Jill Olen â€” there are more than 500,000 border crossers a month â€” 62 million a year, Olen said. The San Ysidro border crossing happens to be the busiest in the nation, she said.
Both Las Vegas and San Diego were dropped from the departmentâ€™s urban area funding list for 2006 and were only eligible to receive â€œsustainmentâ€ funds. But both Nevadaâ€™s Vanderhoof and San Diegoâ€™s Olen say they expect the department to reconsider their status in 2007 now that DHS has accurate information.
These anecdotes add to the impression that there are serious flaws in the analytical process for homeland security grants – which creates a need for both better data and greater subjectivity (although not politically-influenced subjectivity – which is admittedly difficult) in the decision-making process.
Update (6/5): Here’s a link to the scorecard for the SF Bay Area.