FEMA Official: 25% of Local Disaster Funds Not Spent

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Nearly 25 percent of federal funds granted to state and local governments for disaster preparedness since 2003 have not been spent, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official said Tuesday.

The Department of Homeland Security has allotted $35 billion to states and municipalities since 2003 to equip and train first responders and to upgrade communications technology.

Elizabeth Harmon, the agency’s assistant administrator for grant programs, told a House Homeland Security subcommittee that some funds are spent at slower rates than others because of laws, regulations, environmental reviews and other requirements for budgeting and procurement.

She also told lawmakers that between 2006 and 2010, DHS gave states $158 million to create search and rescue teams.

DHS has audited 20 states and 15 have deficiencies in their performance data for the funds, said Anne Richards, DHS’ assistant inspector general for audits.

Auditors also told lawmakers many states have outdated strategies and subpar methods for tracking performance in disaster relief.

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