Thread: Tom Ridge may have your money
02-11-2004, 08:36 PM #1
Tom Ridge may have your money
Found this interesting
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- More than half the money allocated over the past two years to first responders and other state and local agencies to help them prepare for terrorist attacks has not yet been disbursed, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told lawmakers Monday.
Ridge told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that between $8 billion and $9 billion in federal funds allocated as long ago as 2002 had still not reached the front line agencies it was intended to help, despite the parlous financial straits many found themselves in.
"Some (dollars) have not been distributed from '02 yet," he told Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. "We still have almost half from '03, if not more, let alone the '04 dollars.
"So," he concluded, "there is a problem there."
A series of recent reports, including one from the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, have found the nation's first responders to be under-funded and under-staffed.
Ridge was quick to point out that his department was not to blame for the delay.
"Let me assure you," he told lawmakers, "that the dollars that you appropriated to the department ... are ready to be drawn down, and we have done our job. You told us to get it ready for distribution within 45 days, and we were ready."
He said that the reasons for the hold-up varied from place to place.
Ridge criticized local officials who have faulted state or federal bureaucracies for the hold up. "I think it's regrettable that some of the mayors are pointing a finger of blame at either the governors or the federal government," he told reporters after the hearing. "Everybody wants to get the money to them."
He declined to allocate blame. "I don't think it's anybody's fault," he said. "It's a new system. ... Suddenly there is more money in the pipeline for state and locals than they have ever imagined."
A committee staffer, speaking to United Press International on condition of anonymity, agreed that the department "had done a pretty good job" in allocating the money to state governments.
The staffer explained the hold-ups were often the result of state regulations governing procurement or grant applications. Sometimes the administrative machinery to cope with such a huge influx of dollars simply was not in place.
"It's like trying to get a fire hose full of money out through a garden sprinkler," the staffer said.
Ridge added after the hearing that there were also accountability issues that were delaying the distribution of some dollars.
"There's a couple of things we need to understand as all this money's going out the door ... are we getting a security return on our investment?"
He said that in 2004 for the first time -- to ensure the money was being spent wisely -- no cash would be distributed until states had submitted and had approved a strategic plan.
He also promised to work with state and local government to try and streamline the distribution process.
"We are going to take it upon ourselves, with our partners, to try to break the logjam," he told Pryor, "and come up with a standard means of distribution so that neither you nor your colleagues on the committee or other members of Congress, and more importantly the first responders will ever say again, 'It's taking too long to get those dollars to us.'""We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in New York City."
02-11-2004, 08:51 PM #2
We have a problem locally because the purchasing agents aren't purchasing.
Somehow there's a smallish grant that hasn't been reimbursed yet, so the county won't place any orders for the next round (something like $23,000, but don't quote me on that). Problem is, there's a $93,000 grant contingent on spending the $23k!
I can easily see where the problem does not lie with the feds on this one!ullrichk
a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for
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