HOMELAND SECURITY DOLLARS

June 1, 2005

The current plan of attack for the United States against the global war on terrorism is: spend, spend, spend. But this war can not be won by spending alone. The country needs to develop a strategic spending strategy, says the Heritage Foundation.

Currently, the grant program formulas turn homeland security initiatives into state entitlement programs. The formulas guarantee each state a percentage of the funds available; 40 percent are immediately tied up, leaving only 60 percent for discretionary allocations.

  • California, a "target-rich environment," recently received only 7.95 percent of grant monies, even though it accounts for 12 percent of the national population, translating to $5.03 per capita.
  • On the other hand, Wyoming received 0.85 percent and accounts for only .17 percent of the population, translating to $37.94 per capita.
  • Even within states, rural, less populated areas often receive a disproportionate amount of money -- for example, in Iowa, the capital, Des Moines (population 199,000) will receive $250,000, while Sioux City (population 31,600) will receive $299,000.

A new spending strategy would need to allocate money for a national response system and a program to respond to terrorist attacks. The Urban Area Security Initiative, a program that targets major population areas considered potential targets, has produced strange results. With its formula that measures population density, presence of critical infrastructure, and credible threats, San Francisco, population 800,000, and Los Angeles, population 4 million, receive the same amount, says Heritage.

Due to the flaws in the current distribution plan, Washington has developed the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8) that promises to bring more discipline, accountability and strategic direction to the grant dispersing process.

Source: James Jay Carafano, "Homeland Security Dollars and Sense #1: Current Spending Formulas Waste Aid to States," Heritage Foundation, May 20, 2005.

 

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