For the past decade, more than $35 billion of taxpayer money has been spent on DHS grants as part of training to secure Americans, but a report by Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn stated that the DHS has not identified goals or metrics to guarantee the funds were utilized to protect the country or to prove the nation is any safer.
The 54-page report titled “Safety at Any Price: Assessing the Impact of Homeland Security Spending in U.S. Cities”
found that first-responders were approved a $1,000 entry fee to a week-long HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit at an expensive spa resort in San Diego, California where the featured event was zombie apocalypse training.
According to the report, Strategic Operations, a tactical training firm, was hired to produce a “zombie-driven show” that provided two Halloween shows that had 40 actors dressed as zombies as they were being gunned down by a military tactical unit.
The purpose of the demonstration was to highlight how medical units would respond to such “extreme medical situations where people become crazed and violent, creating widespread fear and disorder.”
“At a time when our $16 trillion national debt is our greatest national security threat, we must make sure that all programs, especially those meant to prevent terrorism, are achieving their mission,” said the Republican Senator, who is also the author of the annual Waste Book that identifies government waste, in a news release
. “This report shows that too often so-called security spending is making our nation less secure by directing scarce dollars to low-priority projects and low-risk areas.”
It also looks at the department awarding a $98,000 grant to Columbus, Ohio for an “underwater robot,” which has a video camera installed and provides viewers full-color display. The city council said it was an emergency to meet “federal grant deadlines” and not as a security apparatus.
Another item deemed wasteful was a bollards and video surveillance system installation at the Peoria AZ Sports Conference in Arizona where the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners have their spring training practices. This cost $90,000.
The Seattle Police Department was given $41,000 to purchase a DraganFlyer X6 remote helicopter, which is akin to a drone, but the report notes that the local authorities are not calling it that because it can only fly 400 feet.
“I hope this report encourages DHS to award funds based on calculated risk, not politics,” said Sen. Coburn. “Congress has a duty to ensure that this grant program does not become a parochial, pork-barrel entitlement program. We need to help the program fulfill its original goal of providing funds for projects in areas most at risk.”