Thursday, September 22, 2011
Many DHS Grants are Effective and Have Proper Oversight
Today's blog takes a twist on a recent piece that was published on the Homeland Security Newswire and repeated on several UASI and Emergency Management mail lists and blogs.
The title of this piece was "Many DHS grantsineffective, lack proper oversight" and it was based on an interview with David Muhlhausen, a research fellow in empirical policy analysis at the Heritage Foundation.
As our blog's title clearly indicates, we do not agree with this premise. And, we question the Heritage Foundation's constant criticism of homeland security grants and efforts.
First some background on where this is coming from. The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
The foundation is considered to be one of the most influential conservative research organizations in the United States. While this blog strives for neutrality, some people could surmise that homeland security grants do not fit the hardcore conservative profile of "limited government" which the Heritage Foundation promotes. This may explain a history of anti-homeland security grants opinion which has been pumped out by this foundation. One could surmise that, since the UASI program is focused on urban areas, which typically skew to the left and are mostly run by Democrats, that the right is not enthralled with the idea of pumping government money to these areas. But clearly, this outfit has an agenda which does not support the UASI grant program. So, one should take what they have to say with a large grain of salt.
Now, to the point of the article, it is the opinion of the writer, and of many UASI grantees, that the DHS grants are very effective and may even have too much oversight. While some examples of poor choices will be easy to find, for the most part, great things have been done with UASI money. We have all shared examples of these at UASI conferences where we showcase programs based on planning, organizing, equipping, training and exercising to enhance capabilities to fight terrorism. While we know that all of the grant programs suffer for a shortage of effective measurement devices, we know that these programs have increased our effectiveness. We have a good documented history of preventing terrorism; many incidents have been avoided. Non-terrorism disasters, from the I-35 bridge collapse to the recent natural disasters, have shown how much better we are at preventing, responding to, and recovering from disasters.
UASIs need to do a better job of documenting this effectiveness; but, we all know with certainty that the UASI program worked. We are better prepared on all fronts for all types of disasters.