A recently issued internal report from the Department of Homeland
Security’s Office of Inspector General has called into question the ability of
the agency to adequately handle its responsibilities.
The Associated Press reported that the report states the department suffers from major management
challenges and questions the department’s ability to oversee the billions of
dollars in contracts it awards each year.
The report also singled out the Federal Emergency Management Agency as
a top concern following its mishandling of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005.
“Based on our work related to prior emergency response efforts, we have
raised concerns regarding weaknesses,” the report said.
The report found that the circumstances created by the hurricanes
provided an “unprecedented opportunity for fraud, waste and abuse” because
FEMA’s programs are handled through contracts and grants.
Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke told The AP that the department is working to make programs more
efficient and effective and that making changes to FEMA is one of the
department’s top priorities.
The audit found that Homeland Security had awarded $4.1 billion in
contracts related to Katrina – mostly for consulting and housing – as opposed
to the nearly $10 billion in contracts awarded on all remaining projects in
2005, according to The AP.
The report also cited financial reporting problems, delays in creating
and installing a new personnel system, and poor coordination between border
patrol officers and immigration investigators as other areas of concern.