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22/12/2004 | DHS Inspector General says port security grant program lacks coordination, criteria

Martin Edwin Andersen

 

The Department of Homeland Security’s outgoing Inspector General has panned what he called the poor coordination between DHS’ port security grant program and the department’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate, a problem which, the IG said, “resulted in funding of projects with low scores in the review process.”

“DHS grant making for this sector of national infrastructure was not well coordinated with the IAIP Office of Infrastructure Protection, (and) did not account for infrastructure protection priorities in the application review process,” DHS/IG Clark Kent Ervin reported.

“Also, the DHS does not have a strong grant evaluation process in place by which to address post-award administration issues, including measuring progress in accomplishing DHS grant objectives.”

Findings from the still-unreleased report on the port security grant program were summarized in a DHS/OIG report, “Major Management Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security,” released Dec. 8.

The grant program has been criticized in the past by port leaders, who complain the application process is too cumbersome and that the grants issued in four separate award announcements appear to be haphazard in their selection.

Ervin said that, in response to his office’s audit, DHS officials say that staffing “is inadequate to supporting the administration of the Port Security Grant Program’s post-award phase.”

A number of DHS agencies serve as “partners” in both the request for application development phase and in the evaluation panels for the Port Security Grant Program, Ervin said, including the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness (SLGCP), the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration, as well as the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).

“As the lead agency for port security … (the) Coast Guard has been working with IAIP on port-wide criticality assessments,” Ervin noted. “The Port Security Grant Program requires applicants to have completed a security vulnerability assessment as required in the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA).”

The Coast Guard, he said, “has defined the criteria for the structure of the required vulnerability/risk assessments under MTSA. Department officials said that in FY 2005, SLGCP will involved IAIP’s Office of Infrastructure Protection appropriately in the Port Security Grant Program.”

Ervin reported that DHS grant program staff have “developed a report to be submitted by the grantee at the end of the project period. This data will provide broad statistics demonstrating how the grant award funding has reduced the grantees’ risk as identified by their security vulnerability assessment.

“Department officials said that, in FY 2005, SLGCP plans to increase staff to allow for site visits and improved oversight of grant-funding projects,” he added.

Ironically, neither the outspoken Ervin nor SLGCP director C. Suzanne Mencer will be around to oversee the new processes. Ervin’s recess appointment was not renewed by the Bush Administration this month, and last week, Mencer announced her intention to resign effective in January.

The full Inspector General’s report can be viewed at: http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/OIG_05-06_Dec04.pdf

Martin Edwin Andersen can be reached at Mick_Andersen@portsecuritynews.com

Copyright © 2004 Port Security News. All rights reserved.

Port Security News (Estados Unidos)

 


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