Dr. Coburn Disappointed by Senate Vote to Protect Duplicative Homeland Security Programs
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released the following statement regarding the Senate's vote to protect, by a vote of 71 to 25, two redundant grant programs designed to provide funding for interoperable - or compatible - communications equipment and training for public safety agencies. The Coburn amendment (#345) would have saved taxpayers at least $12 million by combining the two interoperable communications grant programs administered at Department of Homeland Security into one. The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers Union both scored or "key voted" the Coburn amendment.
"Taxpayers shouldn't be surprised that communication within public safety agencies often breaks down when Congress decides to protect two redundant grant programs about communication. Our inability to streamline this effort and overcome internal bureaucratic turf battles wastes taxpayer dollars and compromises public safety," Dr. Coburn said. "Forcing first responders in our towns and cities to fill out two sets of grant proposals does nothing to protect American citizens."
The Government Accountability Office stated the following in 2003 in a report on interoperability programs: "[T]he fragmented delivery of federal assistance can complicate coordination and integration of services and planning at state and local levels."
"At a time when our nation is at war and facing a mounting fiscal crisis, Congress has to do better. If we hope to succeed in the face of great fiscal and security challenges we need to take small steps and eliminate duplicative programs," Dr. Coburn said.
The 9/11 Commission did not recommend the creation of two duplicative interoperability programs. Moreover, the Bush administration strongly opposed having two duplicative interoperability grant programs.