Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 3, 2006

CRS report dissects the DHS grant process

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Risk Assessment — by Christian Beckner on August 3, 2006

One more new Congressional Research Service report, again a Homeland Security Watch exclusive:

RL33583: Homeland Security Grants: Evolution of Program Guidance and Grant Allocation Methods, August 1, 2006

The report provides a useful summary of the various homeland security grant programs, detailing the various programs, guidelines, methodologies, and data sets that have influenced the grant decisions over the last several years, in a constantly-evolving fashion. The last section of the report offers a list of suggested questions for Congress to consider in its oversight role:

  • Who should identify the risk and effectiveness factors to be considered?
  • What risk and effectiveness factors are most appropriate?
  • How did DHS determine what asset types and geographic attributes to use, and how are these weighted in a state’s or an urban area’s risk assessment?
  • What weight did DHS give to NADB assets, and what other sources did DHS use in determining asset risks?
  • How should the risk and effectiveness factors be evaluated?
  • Is DHS able to validate and confirm the reliability of asset types and geographic attributes it receives from other federal entities?
  • Has DHS compared a 100% risk-based methodology against a risk and effectiveness methodology? If, so how does it change state and urban area allocations?
  • Should DHS arrange an independent peer review of its allocation methodologies prior to disseminating the grant application guidance and determining state and urban area allocations?

All good questions, and ones that hopefully DHS will answer in the coming months, as part of efforts to improve the accountability and transparency of the grants system.

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