The authoritative source on Colorado Governor Bill Ritter brought to you by the Editors at the Cherry Creek News and Denver Community Newspapers
Monday, February 4, 2008
GOV. RITTER ESTABLISHES STATE OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Gov. Bill Ritter today announced the creation of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, bringing greater focus, coordination and oversight to the administration of federal grants and the state's fragmented homeland security mission.
Retired National Guard Gen. Mason Whitney will serve as the Cabinet-level director of the Office. He will report directly to Gov. Ritter with the authority to coordinate efforts across multiple state agencies.
"This is an important step toward consolidating and improving our homeland security programs, reducing fragmentation, and eliminating inefficiencies and duplication in the homeland security mission," Gov. Ritter said. "It will give us greater focus, greater coordination and greater oversight.
"I want to be very clear: we are not creating a new bureaucracy," Gov. Ritter added. "We are better organizing, better coordinating and better overseeing homeland security."
Last summer, Gov. Ritter asked Whitney and former state Auditor Joanne Hill to analyze the state's homeland security operations and recommend improvements. Several federal audits had criticized the state's Homeland Security Grant Program as ineffective and disjointed.
A January audit further questionedColorado's administration of federal grant money, described the state's homeland security strategy as disorganized, and said the state's organizational structure lacked a single point of responsibility and oversight.
"Even before I took office a year ago, we knew there were problems in this area," Gov. Ritter said. "So we moved quickly to begin creating a new homeland security vision and strategy. Establishing the Governor's Office of Homeland Security is the next step toward greater efficiency, greater accountability and greater coordination."
"The problem with our homeland security mission isn't that our departments aren't working hard on their pieces of the mission," Gen. Whitney said. "The problem has been a lack of integration across functional areas because coordination wasn't available at the right level. The Governor's Office of Homeland Security aligns the responsibility with the authority at the appropriate level for coordinating all of those efforts."
The Homeland Security Office physically will be located in theMulti-AgencyCoordinationCenterin Centennial for the time being. It will house 14 employees, and it will be fully operational by July.
The Office will coordinate all state and local homeland security initiatives and administer federal grants related to homeland security. The Office will:
·Work with various state agencies and the state's nine all-hazards regions to develop and implement the state's homeland security strategy;
·Build partnerships with first-responders, agencies and citizens in the public and private sectors;
·Administer federal grants in compliance with federal, state and local laws and regulations;
·Oversee expenditures made by grantees of homeland security grants;
·Provide technical assistance to grantees of homeland security grants; and
·Provide oversight for homeland security training and exercise programs.