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Blunt orders better management of homeland security funds

February 08, 2005
By: Nicole Volhontseff
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt has ordered all state agencies to provide him by March 31 with detailed analyses regarding the federal homeland security funds they have received and how those funds are being spent.

In announcing the order Tuesday, Blunt complained that the prior administration of Gov. Bob Holden had not kept track of how the money was being used.

In 2003 and 2004, Missouri received $125 million from the federal government in homeland security grants. Federal law requires states to obligate 80 percent of their acquired homeland security funds to local governments within 45 days of receiving the grants. Missouri has spent only $20 million of its allotted amount in the last two years.

"Missouri is a potential target," said Blunt, adding that terrorists will attack the state when it is least likely expected.

Blunt has asked for a report from every executive department to determine what can be done with the remaining $105 million to enhance homeland security in the state. There presently is not any freeze on the existing money, and the governor wants to know the status of the available grants.

"It is disturbing to know that funds our first responders and law enforcement agencies need for training, equipment and anti-terrorism planning efforts have not been spent for the last two years," Blunt said.

Reports will include an analysis of how much federal homeland security funding each department has received and how it was spent. A plan outlining how each department will use grant money to better prepare and protect the public if a terrorist attack should occur will also be included.

Each department must in addition make a list of grant requests they have made for federal homeland security funds. Last, departments are required to provide a list of any private company or local government agency that they have partnered with to petition for homeland security grant funding.

This final portion of the report comes after Blunt expressed concern over former Missouri Homeland Security Director Tim Daniel's relationship with Convergence Communications.

Daniel encouraged the state to purchase a $300,000 web portal from the company, which he later went to work for after resigning from his state position. The contract for the web portal was found to be duplicative of other emergency notifications systems already in place.

The adjudicant general of the Missouri National Guard, Gen. Dennis Schull. will take Daniel's place in overseeing the management of homeland security funds. Blunt says that once he names a director for the Public Safety Department, the new director will work with Schull to oversee the operation.

Blunt had said earlier he plans to move the Homeland Security office into the Public Safety Department.