Accounting for Homeland Security spending not easy

September 6, 2011 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: Illinois' Homeland Security and questions about where the money is going.

A decade after 9/11, state and federal governments spend about as much money on homeland security as basic public education or on veterans' benefits. When it comes to all the gadgets and people now responsible for counter-terrorism across the country, and in Illinois, it is nearly impossible to account for all of the money being spent.

Since September 11, 2001, Washington, Springfield and the rest of the state capitals have been spending about $75 billion a year on protection from terrorists.

In Illinois, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on "readiness" since 9/11, mostly through the state's participation in several national terrorism exercises. These training and countless other smaller exercises every year are financed through grant money doled out by the state's terrorism task force composed of dozens of local agency officials.

Homeland Security funding in Illinois has paid for law enforcement and emergency response equipment from Chicago to Carbondale and hundreds of hamlets in between on the theory that they might someday be a terror target-- or could come to the aid of a community that is.

According to the most recent 275-page state audit of Homeland Security funding, the Illinois auditor general found that emergency management agency officials failed to account for the use of some government funds; state officials conducted inadequate monitoring of local agencies that received homeland security money; the audit determined that emergency officials poorly managed some equipment purchasing and didn't follow certain internal accounting controls.

Even as homeland security drills and spending have continued, some of the Illinois auditor general's same findings have been repeated year after year, with emergency management officials in Illinois promising to fix them but apparently not doing so.

Illinois Homeland Security officials maintain that some of the problems have been addressed .

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