Thursday, January 3, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter and Gen. Mason Whitney, Colorado's homeland security coordinator, said today they are continuing to make significant improvements to strengthen the state's homeland security program, which was the subject of a federal audit released today.
"Even before taking office in January 2007, we began reviewing the well-documented deficiencies concerning the administration of federal homeland security dollars in Colorado," Gov. Ritter said. "Since then, we have appointed new leadership, set a new vision and implemented new processes. Among the most significant steps we've taken: bringing in Gen. Whitney, former State Auditor Joanne Hill and others; updating our state strategy; and implementing new controls and procedures.
"I'm confident in the progress we are making to restructure the organization, tighten up the oversight and administration of grant funds, and improve training," Gov. Ritter added.
"We have already addressed many of the issues identified in earlier reviews, and we look forward to aggressively continuing those improvements after we have a chance to fully analyze this newest report," said Gen. Whitney, the former adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard. "We must ensure the state is fully supporting emergency responders across Colorado and properly administering federal grants."
In charting a new course for the state's homeland security program, Gov. Ritter and Gen. Whitney have already implemented many improvements, among them:
Management and Organization
n      Gov. Ritter appointed:
o       Gen. Whitney as Colorado homeland security coordinator;
o       Former state Auditor Joanne Hill as director of quality assurance;
o       Kent Smiley as continuity of government coordinator.
n      As recommended by the Inspector General's audit, the grants administration team also now includes two additional experienced administrators and a financial compliance officer.
n      Gen. Whitney has undertaken a comprehensive review of the state's current homeland security organizational structure to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization as well as create stronger partnerships with local responders.
Grants Administration
n      Gen. Whitney has become chair of the 17-member Colorado Homeland Security and All-Hazard Senior Advisory Committee (SAC). He reactivated the SAC so that it meets quarterly – as required by the federal government – to monitor grant-funded programs and review new grant applications from local jurisdictions.
n      Gen. Whitney and the SAC are updating the state's comprehensive homeland security strategic plan, gathering input from stakeholders across Colorado. The revamped plan will represent a unified, comprehensive homeland security strategy, one that addresses both terrorist and natural threats.
n      All 2008 grant awards to local agencies will be allocated according to new risk and capability factors and criteria. Threats, vulnerabilities and consequences will be fully assessed.
n      New benchmarks for performance and accountability will be included in the plan.
n      A new monitoring program has been established to ensure laws, regulations, policies and procedures are followed by state and local agencies and to ensure quality and consistency in the administration of grants throughout the state.
n      A new Supplemental Policies and Procedures Manual is being crafted and is scheduled for release in early 2008 to promote quality and consistency in the state and local administration of grants.
n      The manual will outline requirements for internal controls over equipment management, and a renewed emphasis will be placed on the importance of ensuring equipment readiness and accountability for inventory.
Training and Exercises
n      All Colorado homeland security grant staff has now undergone training at federally recognized grants administration programs.
n      State and local training and exercise programs are now coordinated with homeland security priorities.