WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Wednesday issued the following statement in response to a report on homeland security grants released by Committee member Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

“Although Senator Coburn’s report makes some good points, the story of the Department of Homeland Security’s grants program is far more positive than this report would suggest.

“For many years, I have urged the Department to develop a set of performance measures to systematically gauge the effectiveness of its grants programs. But I also know from real world experience that these grants make a big difference in state and local preparations for, and response to, natural and man-made disasters. 

“The grants, for example, have helped improve first responder communications between different jurisdictions and levels of government – a lesson learned from the 9/11 attacks when scores of New York City fire fighters died because of poor communications. Grants have also strengthened regional fusion centers, which have played key roles in breaking up terrorist plots in North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Washington.

“FEMA, however, must do a better job of tracking homeland security grants to determine where and how response capabilities are improved.  That’s why the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 and the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 required FEMA to develop objective performance measures for the grant programs it administers. In 2010, I also worked to pass legislation that required FEMA to submit biennial reports on its progress in developing performance measures, as well as an assessment of its grant programs. FEMA’s failure to fulfill these obligations is a disservice to the American taxpayer and I urge the agency to make evaluating these helpful programs a top priority.”