Zombie Apocalypse Threatens Taxpayer Dollars, Not Nation’s Security | Citizens Against Government Waste

Zombie Apocalypse Threatens Taxpayer Dollars, Not Nation’s Security

The WasteWatcher

In December 2012, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released Safety At Any Price: Assessing the Impact of Homeland Security Spending in U.S. Cities, which focused on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant programs, including the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI).  Those who are familiar with Sen. Coburn’s previous work were not surprised by the numerous examples of wasteful spending in the report, such as federal funding for a zombie apocalypse demonstration.

Sen. Coburn’s report revealed that first responders used DHS grants to pay the $1,000 entrance fee to the five-day HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit beginning on October 29, 2012.  Hosted at the luxurious Paradise Point Resort & Spa near San Diego, the summit hired a firm to perform two shows in which 40 actors donned zombie garb and makeup and were gunned down by soldiers.  Somehow this event was intended to replicate a real-life terrorist attack.  Conferees attended the show as part of their emergency response training.

The report unveiled a 2012 UASI grant of $98,000 to Columbus, Ohio to purchase an underwater robot to be used for search and recovery.  According to Sen. Coburn, “officials on the Columbus City Council went so far as to declare the purchase an ‘emergency,’ not because of security needs, but because of ‘federal grant deadlines.’  If the money was not spent quickly, it would have been lost.”

Finally, the report detailed efforts by the police department in Keene, New Hampshire to use DHS grants to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle for $285,933.  Although Keene has only reported two murders in the past 15 years, officials claimed the vehicle could be used during the town’s annual pumpkin festival.  Many residents opposed the acquisition of the BearCat, employing the motto “thanks, but no tanks.”

Beyond these undeniably reckless examples of spending, DHS grants have also come under fire for potential duplication.  A February 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report stated that four DHS grant programs, including UASI, were under risk of duplication because they “have overlapping goals, project types, and funding jurisdictions....” 

The four programs, the Port Security Grant Program, the State Homeland Security Program, the Transit Security Grant Program, and UASI have received a combined $20.3 billion since their creation, which occurred from fiscal years (FY) 2002 to 2005.  Since its inception in FY 2003, UASI has received $6.7 billion.  According to the GAO, DHS does not always adequately track grant funding and individual recipients, which places the four grant programs at “risk of duplication.” 

Since its creation in November 2002, DHS has come under repeated criticism for wasting taxpayer money on projects that have little if anything to do with protecting the country.  In particular, DHS grant programs have been influenced by the “use it or lose it” rules to spend federal money.

Every dollar used on a zombie apocalypse demonstration or for underwater robots takes away funding from true homeland security needs, particularly programs for areas of the country that are most at risk.  More oversight is clearly needed in order assure that DHS grant programs accomplish their intended objectives, which would also eliminate unnecessary burdens on taxpayers.

Sign Up For Email Updates

Optional Member Code