In Indiana, Accounting for 'Missing' Homeland Security Dollars

GOSHEN, Ind. -- State officials say they cannot account for more than $1.2 million of Homeland Security grant money sent to Elkhart County, one the largest outstanding balances of any county that owes money to the program.

If officials cannot provide orders for purchases made, the county will have to pay back the funds with the first $400,000 due June 10, the state said.

Warren Allender, the county's emergency management director who manages the funds, said Tuesday that the issue is a paperwork problem and should be resolved by next week.

Homeland security money has been used for emergency equipment for first responders. The federal government made the funds available for local agencies to prepare for terror attacks, but the equipment also can be used for chemical spills or weather disasters.

Allender said the state agency recently changed its procedures and that he was notified about the discrepancy in a letter last week. The letter, however, indicates the state contacted Allender previously.

"There are occasions, like decontamination equipment we agreed to purchase, that arrived just last week," he said. "That order was over a year in process. I can't do anything about suppliers and back orders. ... Everything is in line and accounted for."

Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration recently said state officials could not account for about $22 million of the grants issued statewide.

Pam Bright, spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, said Elkhart County has outstanding balances of about $409,000 from 2003 grants and $848,000 from last year's awards.

No more Homeland Security money will be distributed to the county until the previous accounts are settled, Bright said.