Office of Justice Programs
State and Local Domestic Preparedness Grant Programs
Report No. 02-15
Office of the Inspector General
IMPROVEMENTS ARE NEEDED TO ENSURE PROGRAM FUNDS ARE USED TIMELY AND EFFECTIVELY
We found that ODP grant program funds were not awarded promptly and grantees did not spend funds within a reasonable time after the funds were awarded. As of January 15, 2002, over $141 million of the $243 million in funds appropriated for equipment from FY 1998 through FY 2001 had not been awarded. Furthermore, about $65 million in grant funds awarded to grantees was unspent. Also, nearly $1 million in equipment purchased by the grantees was unavailable for use because grantees did not properly distribute the equipment, could not locate it, or had been inadequately trained on how to operate it. Two grantees we reviewed had not participated in or conducted exercises in which their readiness could be assessed. We also found that the ODP had not developed methods and standards in accordance with the Government Performance and Results Act for evaluating whether federal support improved grantees' capability to respond to terrorist incidents.
Award and Expenditure of Grant Funds
We examined grants awarded and expended from FY 1998 through January 15, 2002. The ODP awarded funds after reviewing an applicant's existing resources and their narratives explaining their potential as targets of terrorism. On the basis of our review of applications, we determined that the ODP's grant award decisions for equipment were consistent with the ODP's published criteria. Also, by the end of FY 2001, the ODP's administrative costs were $8 million. In our judgment, this amount was reasonable, as it represented only 5.3 percent of total program costs of about $151 million in awards to cities, counties, and states, and for other domestic preparedness activities.
However, we found that the ODP did not award grant funds until 7 to 29 months after they were appropriated. As of January 15, 2002, only $4.9 million of the $72.5 million in FY 2000 funds were awarded, and only about $2.9 million of the $75.7 million in FY 2001 funds had been awarded. This occurred in part because of delays by states in addressing a Congressional requirement for each state to develop a comprehensive state-level domestic preparedness plan. The ODP did not set a deadline for submission of the state plans.
In addition, we found that of $101.7 million awarded, only $36.7 million or 36 percent had been spent by grantees, leaving an unexpended balance of about $65 million. Among the grantees with the largest unexpended balances were those that served some of the most populous metropolitan areas in the country -- New York City, Chicago, and Detroit.
The appropriations, grant amounts, dates awarded, and expenditures for the ODP's Equipment Grant Programs are summarized in the table below:
Appropriations, Awards and Unexpended Funds for Equipment
|FY 1998||11/26/97||$ 12,000,000||10/1/98||$ 11,852,557||$ 984,448|
|FY 1999||10/21/98||$ 82,800,000||6/10/99 - 4/1/01||$ 81,993,242||$ 56,158,077|
|FY 2000||11/29/99||$ 72,525,000||10/1/99 - 9/19/01||$ 4,910,370||$ 4,849,935|
|FY 2001||12/21/00||$ 75,726,000||7/1/01 - 11/1/01||$ 2,964,700||$ 2,964,700|
|Total||$243,051,000||$ 101,720,869||$ 64,957,160|
|Source: Office of Justice Programs|
Details of the awards and expenditures for each year, and explanations for the award dates, follow:
FY 1998: Public Law 105-119, enacted November 26, 1997, appropriated $32.7 million for counter-terrorism. Of this amount, $12 million was designated for local agencies to purchase specialized equipment under the State and Domestic Preparedness Equipment Support Program. The Department did not award any funds to local agencies until October 1998 because grantmaking authority was not given to OJP until April 1998. After OJP established the ODP to administer the grants, it then took five months to contact potential grantees, review applications, and award the funds.
As noted in the table above, grantees were slow to spend their grant money. Reasons given by grantees were local "red tape," which made purchasing difficult, and backlogs at suppliers. As of January 15, 2002, Financial Status Reports (FSRs) submitted by grantees indicated that approximately $1 million of the $11.9 million in FY 1998 funds awarded still had not been spent.
FY 1999: Public Law 105-277, signed on October 21, 1998, provided about $43.8 million and $31 million for grants to states and municipalities, respectively, to purchase equipment. An additional $8 million was available for grants to the states for planning. Again, we found that the ODP failed to dispense the funds in a timely manner. The start of the award periods ranged from 7 to 29 months after the funds were appropriated. This occurred in part because of delays in addressing a congressional requirement for each state to develop a comprehensive state-level domestic preparedness plan, and for OJP to submit to the Committees on Appropriations, no later than June 1, 1999, a plan for distributing FY 1999 funding. In the interim, the ODP developed the "FY 1999 State Program Guidelines and Application Kit" and the "Assessment and Strategy Development Tool Kit." Once the program was developed, the plan was sent from OJP to the Justice Management Division and the Office of Management and Budget, and then to Congress. Although Congress established the requirement for state plans, the ODP did not establish a deadline for states to submit plans. A grants management official also told us that once applications were submitted, the ODP had to contact grantees to obtain missing documentation, clarify application entries, and revise equipment lists.
As with the FY 1998 monies, grantees did not spend available funds promptly. According to the FSRs submitted as of January 15, 2002, more than $56 million of the $82 million awarded had not been spent - $9.4 million available to counties and municipal agencies and $46.7 million available to states.
FY 2000: Public Law 106-113, signed on November 29, 1999, appropriated $72.5 million for equipment purchases under the FY 2000 State Domestic Preparedness Equipment Program. As of January 15, 2002, OJP had awarded only six grants, totaling $4.9 million. According to an ODP grants management official, awards were not made quickly because congressional staff approval for offering grants to states were not approved until February 2000, and approval for offering grants to the territories was not approved until August 2000. As with the FY 1999 State Domestic Preparedness Program, states were required to submit a needs assessment and a three-year statewide strategy, and this further delayed the grant award process. Also, of the $4.9 million awarded, only about $60,000 had been expended as of September 30, 2001.
FY 2001: Public Law 106-533, signed on December 21, 2000, appropriated $75.7 million. As of January 15, 2002, only about $3 million had been awarded because only three states had submitted applications.
To determine the reasons for the states' delays in submitting their applications, we spoke to the ODP Branch Chief. The Branch Chief said that the states were using the funds made available for planning to assess their needs and develop a 3-year strategic plan. The FY 1999 equipment funds can be allocated to local jurisdictions by the state administrative agency designated by the Governor to apply for and administer these funds immediately without obtaining the results of the assessments or completing the strategic plan. However, states cannot apply for FY 2000 or 2001 funding without first completing the assessments and the strategic plans. When the states complete these requirements they can apply for funding for both fiscal years using a single solicitation. Public Law 106-553 authorized the single solicitation that combines both fiscal years. Shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Attorney General sent a letter to state governors urging them to complete their state needs assessments and statewide strategy plans as soon as possible, but no later than December 15, 2001. The letter also offered assistance from the ODP. According to ODP staff, the letter resulted in 42 states submitting their strategic plans. Of the 42 states, 34 strategic plans have been approved, 4 are pending approval, and the ODP needs additional information from the remaining 4.
The immediate consequence of delays in awarding grants and spending funds is that grantees do not increase their capability for responding to terrorist acts as adequately as they could have if the grants had been disbursed and the money used for its intended purpose. An ODP Branch Chief commented that the ODP encourages grantees to make purchases as soon as possible and provides equipment lists to speed up the acquisition process. The ODP also has interagency agreements with the Defense Logistics Agency and the Marine Corps Systems Command, both of which can requisition equipment and have it delivered to the grantee. Grantees are encouraged but not required to use these services.
The ODP Branch Chief also commented that local politics often slow the purchase process because firefighter, law enforcement, emergency medical, and emergency management officials in a jurisdiction must reach a consensus on any changes to the equipment list. 8 The ODP requires such involvement to ensure that grant funds benefit all public safety disciplines within a jurisdiction. The official said this may slow the purchasing process, but it ensures consistency and standardization across a jurisdiction and prevents buying equipment that will not be used or placed within an agency that is not equipped to handle it.
The ODP Branch Chief also said that ODP program managers review grantee expenditures monthly. If it appears a grantee is unable to spend its grant funds within the period allowed by the grant, ODP program managers extend the grant period. The ODP's program managers also oversee grantee activity by conducting site-monitoring visits. According to the ODP Branch Chief, the ODP's program managers plan one or two monitoring visits per month for local jurisdiction equipment grants.
In our judgment, the ODP's monitoring controls were insufficient to ensure that grantees spent grant funds promptly. In view of the urgency of the need to respond effectively to terrorist attack, the ODP needs to implement more aggressive measures to assist grantees in using available funds - such as setting timeframes and holding the grantee accountable for delays in using available funds.
Program funds may be used to purchase equipment for communications, personal protection, and chemical, biological, and radiological detection. For the FY 1999 program, the equipment purchased had to be on the FY 1999 Authorized Equipment Purchase List. 9 In addition, training in the use of the equipment was available from the ODP or from the manufacturer.
We reviewed on site 13 grantees, who spent most of their grant and who represented a nationwide sample. We found that grant funds were used to purchase equipment consisting primarily of communication devices, personal protective gear, monitoring devices, decontamination kits, and detection equipment. However, some equipment items purchased by 11 of the 13 grantees would have been unusable in the event of a terrorist attack. Four grantees kept equipment in storage rather than distributing the items to locations needing them. Those grantees included Dallas County, TX; Westchester County, NY; Memphis, TN, and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Middlesex County. A Dallas County official told us the items were stored in the Fire Marshal's office and would remain there until all equipment was received and personnel were trained on their use. An official for Westchester County, NY, stated the equipment was not fully distributed throughout the county because a distribution plan was still being finalized. Memphis, TN, was waiting for the delivery of additional equipment and officials said they preferred to have all equipment in before distributing any equipment to one unit and not another. Officials from the Westford Fire Department, Middlesex County, said they were awaiting training on the stored equipment prior to distribution to the area fire departments. Six grantees were unable to locate equipment that had been stored. 10 At three locations, grantee staff had not been trained on how to operate the equipment. At one location, the grantee determined the equipment was outdated and discarded, but did not replace it.
The chart on the following page summarizes the grantees, dollar amount awarded, dollar value of the unusable equipment (amount questioned), and the reason the equipment was unusable as of the conclusion of our work on site. See Appendix IV for the listing of types of equipment that was unusable. We questioned the $870,899 in funds used to pay for the equipment.
UNUSABLE EQUIPMENT PURCHASES
|Dallas County, TX||$ 300,000||$ 299,728||Items not distributed to locations needing them|
|Westchester County, NY||$ 550,000||$ 238,165||Items not distributed to locations needing them.|
|Memphis, TN||$ 199,853||$ 137,487||Items not distributed to locations needing them.|
|MA Emergency Management |
|$ 299,665||$ 101,738||Items not distributed to locations needing them.|
|Wayne County, MI||$ 300,000||$ 55,330||Equipment missing, or staff unable to operate.|
|Clark County, NV||$ 400,000||$ 32,572||Equipment missing, or staff unable to operate.|
|Hillsborough County, FL||$ 250,000||$ 2,674||Equipment not delivered by vendor, or missing.|
|Detroit, MI||$ 500,000||$ 1,255||Equipment missing.|
|Tarrant County, TX||$ 500,000||$ 1,132||Equipment outdated and discarded.|
|Fairfax County, VA||$ 249,759||$ 746||Equipment missing.|
|Cobb County, GA||$ 113,384||$ 72||Equipment missing.|
|Total||$ 3,662,661||$ 870,899|
|Source: Office of the Inspector General|
We reviewed 3 training providers on-site and analyzed replies to questionnaires regarding the quality of training sent to 156 grantees. The three training providers we reviewed on-site were the CDP at Fort McClellan, AL; Community Research Associates (CRA) in Champaign, IL and Nashville, TN; and Texas A&M University's National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center. The survey covered the training providers we reviewed on-site as well as training conducted by LSU, NMIMT, Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA), and the NTS.
We found that the ODP had not established standards for measuring the CRA's and Texas A&M's performance under their agreements. 11 Without such standards, we could not readily determine whether the activities planned or completed by the CRA or Texas A&M met the objectives in their agreements.
We mailed survey questionnaires to 147 grantees, and we personally distributed survey questionnaires at 9 of the 13 grantees 12 we reviewed on-site, thereby covering all 156 grantees. Some grantees duplicated and distributed the survey questionnaire among their staff, resulting in a total of 168 responses.
The survey consisted of 19 questions covering 5 areas in which grantees numerically rated the quality of training received. The scores for the questions in those five areas were averaged, by provider, on the chart on the following page. In addition, the survey included a section in which grantees wrote narratives describing the overall value of the courses taken, course strengths, and course weaknesses. A summary of the narrative responses, by provider, is found at Appendix III.
SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE RESULTS, AVERAGED BY PROVIDER
|Availability of Classes/Training Site||CDP||CRA||LSU||NMIMT||NTS||PBA||TX A&M|
|Ease of registration process||4.5||4.6||4.8||4.5||4.0||4.8||4.5|
|Availability of course when needed||4.4||4.6||4.6||4.4||3.6||4.8||4.1|
|Convenience of training site to the workplace||3.7||4.6||4.6||3.3||2.6||4.9||4.1|
|Knowledge of the subject matter||4.7||5.0||4.4||5.0||4.1||4.9||4.6|
|Preparedness and organization||4.6||5.0||4.4||4.8||4.6||5.0||4.4|
|Ability to explain concepts and |
|Ability to answer questions||4.5||5.0||4.4||4.9||4.3||4.9||4.4|
|Quality of printed materials and visuals||4.4||4.4||4.6||4.7||4.6||4.8||4.6|
|Simulations used in demonstrations/exercises||4.3||4.7||4.5||5.0||4.1||4.6||4.5|
|Achievement of course objectives||4.5||4.6||4.2||4.6||3.3||4.8||4.3|
|Relevance to the grantee's needs||4.3||4.4||4.6||4.5||3.0||4.9||4.6|
|Appropriateness of content to the grantee |
staff's level of experience/understanding
|Overall effectiveness of hands-on activities||4.2||4.0||4.3||4.6||3.6||4.4||4.1|
|Appropriateness of course length||4.2||4.3||3.8||4.3||4.0||4.1||4.3|
|Overall assessment of the class and |
|Willingness to recommend the course to others||4.5||4.9||4.4||4.7||3.3||4.9||4.3|
|Level of preparedness, prior to the class, |
to address a domestic terrorism emergency
|Level of preparedness, after taking the class, |
to address a domestic terrorism emergency
|How well the course met the grantee's objective||4.3||4.6||4.0||4.7||3.4||4.8||4.3|
|Source: Replies to questionnaires sent to grantees|
The grantees answered the survey questions using a rating scale of zero to five points. Overall, grantees were satisfied with the quality of training received from the seven providers. Scores ranged from 3.4 points to 4.9 points on the overall assessments of the classes and course content. In addition, all grantees rated themselves higher on their level of preparedness after taking the classes, with increases in scores ranging from 0.2 points to 1.6 points.
We asked the grantees to identify the greatest strengths of the courses. Examples included: (1) knowledgeable instructors, (2) good presentations, (3) hands-on scenarios, and (4) gain of a greater awareness of various types of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological threats. In particular, grantees said that the different types of live demonstrations provided were especially effective in preparing them for an incident of domestic terrorism. We also asked them to list the most significant weakness of the courses. Examples included: (1) more field training is needed, (2) more actual case studies should be reviewed, (3) the courses should be lengthened, (4) the target student base should be more focused, and (5) courses should be offered more often.
One of the goals of the ODP is to provide support to grantees through exercise direction and planning to help them prepare for actual terrorist acts. The ODP's Phase I report submitted to Congress June 1999 concluded that frequent, practical exercises involving the integration of all first responders are critical elements for Weapons of Mass Destruction preparedness. However, funding shortages often prevented exercises by local jurisdictions. Of the 13 grantees we reviewed on-site, 2 (Cobb County, GA, and Memphis, TN) had neither participated in nor conducted exercises in which assessments could be made of their ability to respond to terrorist incidents. A Cobb County official stated they had not conducted any exercises but were planning to do so in the near future. The Memphis, TN, official stated that an assessment should not be the only basis for measuring preparedness. He said that response agencies get the chance to use much of the equipment that would be used in a terrorist incident during their regular response calls. He indicated that exercises would be conducted in the near future.
Compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
The GPRA requires federal agencies to develop a strategic plan that identifies agencies' long-term goals, and annual performance plans that identify the measurable performance goals that agencies will accomplish each year. We found that the ODP's performance plan indicators included the number of law enforcement officers and trainers trained, and the number of first responder teams provided basic and advanced level of equipment through grants. However, the ODP had not developed methods and standards for evaluating whether the support provided to communities actually improved their capacity to respond to terrorist incidents. Without such measurements, it is impossible to determine the extent to which program goals are actually being achieved.
The ODP has advised the OIG that they launched a strategic planning initiative, based on the GPRA, in October 2001. The resulting Strategic Plan and Communication Plan will be finalized in February 2002, and an interim statement of the ODP's Strategic Direction is in the process of being finalized.
The ODP's assistance has resulted in substantial increases in the level of equipment and training available to state and local governments. As of January 15, 2002, grantees spent a total of $36.7 million. However, over $141 million in appropriated funds from FY 1998 through FY 2001 had not been awarded. This occurred in part to delays in addressing a Congressional requirement for each state to develop a comprehensive state-level domestic preparedness plan, and because the ODP did not set a deadline for submission of the state plans. To remedy this, the Attorney General wrote to state governors requesting they submit their state needs assessments and statewide strategic plans no later than December 15, 2001. In addition, we found that grantees had not yet spent about $65 million that had been awarded. Delays in spending could hurt the ability of state and local entities to respond to terrorist attacks. In our judgment, more aggressive oversight and guidance by the ODP could help ensure that grantees make full use of available federal funds. We also found discrepancies that could adversely affect the response capability of 11 of the 13 grantees we reviewed. About $871,000 in equipment purchased was unusable because grantee staff could not locate the items in their inventory, had not distributed the items to the locations where they were needed, or were inadequately trained on its operation. In addition, two of the grantees we reviewed had not conducted or participated in exercises in which their readiness for a terrorist incident involving Weapons of Mass Destruction could be assessed. Finally, the ODP had not established performance measures, in keeping with the intent of the GPRA, to assess the capability of agencies to respond effectively to terrorist acts.
We recommend the Assistant Attorney General, OJP: