The inspector general said in a audit that grant guidance issued by the Office of Emergency Communications and the Federal Emergency Management Agency "does not prevent grantees from purchasing non-interoperable equipment."
Region V – which manages emergency management activities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio – does not have policies and procedures to provide temporary public transportation during disasters, process public assistance appeals in a timely manner, and doesn't hold required meetings regarding regional issues.
Such a strategy could help identify, prioritize and guide future funding. But without it, GAO said it increases the risk that the government and its partners will see "lower returns on investments or lost opportunities to strengthen key critical infrastructure and lifelines."
Greater accuracy is critical because people in an affected area could take timely action to protect themselves. Additionally, they may be more inclined to heed the warning if they know an emergency message applies to them, the report said.
The DHS inspector general said it deferred to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision that the costs were "fair and reasonable for the work performed" under government regulations that allow for exceptions, but there were better options.
Robert Criss, the study's author, said he found miscalculations of the official 100-year flood levels for many Midwestern cities, including St. Louis, along the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Illinois rivers.
The audit from the department's inspector general focused on $725 million awarded to the state and city through the Homeland Security Grant Program from fiscal years 2010 through 2012.
The March 22, 2014 mudslide that engulfed the town of Oso traveled at 200 miles per hour and covered about 318 acres, destroying 37 structures. A pool of water that formed behind the debris flooded other houses and structures.
That Aug. 24, 2014, earthquake, which was the strongest in a quarter century, injured more than 280 people, destroyed 18 structures and damaged nearly 2,000 more.
The web-based system is much cheaper than the making reservations by phone. Online fees cost about $7 to $10, while doing it offline costs about $30 to $37, or more than three times the cost.