- First Responder Training: The HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit 2012 was held at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa on an island outside San Diego. The five-day summit was deemed an allowable expense by DHS, permitting first responders to use grant funds for the $1,000 entrance fee. Over the course of the conference, numerous technology companies provided live-action demonstrations in an effort to drum up business — but that’s not even the most egregious part. The marquee event of the summit was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration, which featured 40 actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit. Conference attendees were invited to watch the shows as part of their education in emergency response training.
The list actually goes on…and on. To read the entire report, go here: http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=b86fdaeb-86ff-4d19-a112-415ec85aa9b6.
The creation of the Department of Homeland Security and subsequent grant programs were supposed to be a boon for our industry. People envisioned post-9/11 security spending on the grandest of scales—but even the most staunch supporters of homeland security could not condone this sort of abuse of UASI and other funding-related programs.
“If in the days after 9/11 lawmakers were able to cast their gaze forward ten years, I imagine they would be surprised to see how a counter-terrorism initiative aimed at protecting our largest cities has transformed into another parochial grant program,” Coburn said. “We would have been frustrated to learn that limited federal resources were now subsidizing the purchase of low-priority items.”
This is not to say that all of our taxpayer dollars are being misspent—I would assume that the majority of funds are going to areas where they are necessary. However, officials in these cities and others must embrace the idea that “just because there’s funding available, does not mean it MUST be allocated.” That’s something that leaders on both sides of the aisle can embrace.
Cities have received $7.1 billion in grants through UASI alone since 2003. Our national debt has reached $16 trillion. It’s time to clean up the nation’s spending in the name of security—as it can surely be a detour on our nation’s drive toward the fiscal cliff.