Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Congressman Urges FEMA to Get "Back on Track"

Congress passes Cuellar bill on FEMA spending efficiency
Focuses on reducing government waste, increasing transparency
Washington- Congressman Henry Cuellar’s homeland security bill to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assess the efficiency of homeland security grants passed in the House yesterday, and will now go on to be signed by President Obama.

Once signed into law, 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.

“Fiscal responsibility is one of my top priorities and 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.”

FEMA will be required to take an inventory of its homeland security grants and devise metrics to determine their effectiveness. The legislation also directs FEMA to eliminate unnecessary reporting requirements, rules and regulations that confuse and discourage local entities from participating in the program.

FEMA has invested $29 billion in preparedness grants to state and local entities since 2002. Last fall, the agency reported its system for measuring those investments is seriously flawed.

“Despite spending $5 million to measure how effectively it spent $29 billion over the past seven years, FEMA is unable to accurately gauge how this money has made us any safer,” said Congressman Cuellar. “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.”

Last October, Congressman Cuellar, then chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response, held a hearing to investigate how FEMA was spending 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 just 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 original bill in December 2009 by a vote of 414-0. An amended version passed in the Senate on Wed. Sept. 22, 2010.

Pending final passage, FEMA would have to submit to Congress a plan to achieve these objectives 120 days after the act becomes law.

For more information on H.R. 3980, please visit:

1 comment:

  1. If fiscal responsibility was really Henry Cuellar's top priority he would have not voted lock step with Pilosi, Reed and Obama on Obamascare and Cap and Trade. He's about as anti-fiscally conservative as he can get. Laredo and the rest of D28 needs to hand him his hat and escort him to the door. His public service has hurt Texas, not helped it.