as well. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton released a report in October 2003 showing 49 of the 52 local communities polled in her state had not received any funds. Clinton said the money was held up in the state's capitol, Albany, even though states were supposed to disburse 80 percent of the money within 45 days.

It's not just New York.

Texas cities and counties express similar frustration -- they have been spending money on homeland security defense, mainly through overtime for officers, but promised reimbursement funds have been slow to arrive. Whether the delay was principally a federal problem or the holdup was at the state level is a matter of debate.

"What some states did, such as Texas and Illinois, was create their own rules," Perkosky said. "About 10 percent of the funds went directly to select local governments, and they held onto the rest."

The money was earmarked specifically for training and specific equipment -- "boots and suits." In lieu of a check, some states were creative in providing training and equipment, and others used the money for budget shortfalls and offered their own training to locals, according to Perkosky.

"[The states] said, 'If it's training you want, you need to come to us. We don't care if you want training on how to defuse a bomb, we're going to train you in anthrax identification.'"

San Antonio, Texas, was awarded $5.1 million in federal money in July 2003. On Dec. 1, 2003, Texas authorized the city to spend just 10 percent for physical security enhancements.

It's not all the city needs, and it's late, but they'll take it.

"I'm not sure if [the delay] was at the state level or federal level or somewhere in between," said Michael Miller, San Antonio's emergency management coordinator. "I just know it wasn't at the local level. We're ready to spend that money."

In a recent speech, Ridge said the DHS did its best. "We've moved quickly to get that money out the door. We approved 96 percent of the 2003 grant requests within four days -- and required states to obligate funding to cities within 45 days."

Though Miller hopes the process is improved for fiscal 2004, he was willing to attribute the previous years' troubles to growing pains. "It's a relatively new program, and the country is struggling with how do we best have a managed approach so we don't just throw money around?" he said. "We're looking at regional components that add some complexity to it too."

Texas distributed an online questionnaire to measure community needs. The 100-page document queried localities on their emergency management, law enforcement, public works personnel and equipment needs.

The state and the Texas A&M University Engineering Extension Service developed a template for each community to rate themselves, Miller said, adding that the state then compiled the numbers and developed a state plan by region.

From its assessment, San Antonio judged that more than $100 million was necessary to tend to its needs, but will "make the best" of the $5.1 million it received, Miller said. "Is it going to help? Yeah. Is it going to cover everything we need to do? No."

San Antonio is preparing to host the NCAA Final Four basketball championships in April, and will spend a lot to keep the event safe. Most of the money allocated for fiscal 2002 and fiscal 2003 is meant for equipment and training, which puts San Antonio and other jurisdictions in a bind.

Flexibility Wanted

Results of the Homeland Security Funding Survey, released by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the International Association of Emergency Managers in October 2003, suggested counties would like more flexibility in how they can spend money. The starved counties overwhelmingly said they need money to pay police and fire personnel

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor