WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member, Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., voiced her continuing concerns Friday about the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to administer and oversee Recovery Act grants.
This follows a report that the DHS Inspector General issued last week, raising serious questions about the department’s ability to aggressively monitor and oversee this type of stimulus funding. The report identified in particular the challenges facing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency grant programs, which account for 58 percent of DHS Recovery Act funds. Specifically, officials at TSA and FEMA said they lack adequate staff to properly award and oversee the grant awards.
Senator Collins sent a letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano, head of the DHS, asking for answers to specific questions about the grant funding selection process and the staffing inadequacies. The Senator also asked whether any grant money has been withdrawn because of subsequent failures to meet program requirements.
The Senator asked that the Secretary respond to her questions by January 19.
"The DHS IG has found disturbing evidence of glaring gaps in the administration and oversight of taxpayer dollars," said Senator Collins. "The auditors found that TSA and FEMA, which handle nearly 60 percent of the $2.75 billion in DHS Recovery Act funds, lack adequate staff to either award or monitor these monies. Agency officials actually predicted a decreased level of oversight and scrutiny of Recovery Act funds and agreements, going forward.
“This is simply unacceptable and DHS must take steps immediately to rectify this situation."
According to the IG’s report, TSA and FEMA officials reported that they do not have enough staff to adequately award and/or monitor Recovery Act funds. Only the TSA and FEMA funds are for grants. As a result, the IG report forecasted decreased oversight on both Recovery Act and non-Recovery Act agreements.