House Passes Cuellar Bill to Improve Homeland Security Mission
Requires performance assessment of FEMA grants to ensure nation is prepared and protected against acts of terrorism, national emergencies
Dec 2, 2009 -
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3980, a homeland security bill authored by Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess how homeland security grants have made the nation safer and better prepared since the terror acts of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
FEMA has invested $29 billion in preparedness grants to state and local entities since 2002. This fall, the agency reported its system for measuring those investments is seriously flawed.
“In the past 18 months, FEMA spent $5 million measuring how effectively it spent $29 billion over the past seven years,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Yet FEMA is unable to accurately gauge how this money has made us any safer. Our nation faces both an economic crisis and a constant security threat. The American people deserve to know how their money is being used to make our nation safer.”
This October, Congressman Cuellar, chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response, held a hearing to investigate how FEMA was spending its preparedness funds.
FEMA Deputy Administrator Timothy Manning revealed that despite a 2006 congressional mandate, FEMA had yet to fully measure the effectiveness of the grant program on our national security.
“FEMA called its assessment a work in progress,” said Congressman Cuellar. “But their work in progress wasn’t working and that’s why I immediately drafted this bill. This legislation will make sure that FEMA gets its program back on track, and will ensure FEMA fulfills its promise to prepare the nation against acts of terrorism and other unforeseeable events.”
The House passed Congressman Cuellar’s bill Wednesday by a vote of 414-0.
If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, the Redundancy Elimination and Enhanced Performance for Preparedness Grants Act would require FEMA to streamline its preparedness funding program, making it more transparent and accountable.
FEMA would be required to take an inventory of its homeland security grants and devise metrics to determine how effective those grants are. The bill would also direct FEMA to eliminate unnecessary reporting requirements, rules and regulations that confuse and discourage local entities from participating in the program.
Pending final passage, FEMA would have to submit to Congress a plan to achieve these objectives 120 days after the act becomes law.
Congressman Cuellar believes his legislation could help identify inefficiencies within other grant programs overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.
“This is performance-based budgeting at its core,” said Congressman Cuellar. “We need to be able to review how effectively federal dollars are used in order to make informed funding allocation decisions in the future.”
For more information on H.R. 3980, please visit: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3980rh.txt.pdf
Congressman Henry Cuellar is a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Government Oversight & Reform Committees in the 111th Congress. Accessibility to constituents, education, health care, economic development, and national security are his priorities. Congressman Cuellar is also a Senior Whip and member of the Blue Dog Coalition.