Q&A with DHS Spokesman
Tuesday, December 20, 2005; 1:07 PM
On Dec. 14, 2005, Washington Post reporters Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke that included 12 questions relating to money awarded to several Kentucky universities and colleges. The following is a list of the questions along with the responses sent by the agency spokesman via e-mail on Dec. 15, 2005.
Post: Is the Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium a "Center of Excellence?" If so, when did it become one? If not, why is S&T money going to it and at whose direction?
DHS: No, it is not a Homeland Security Center of Excellence. It is a consortium of higher education institutions in Kentucky, independent of DHS.
Post: Of the $34 million that you said has gone to the Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium and the Institute for Hometown Security, how much of it was earmarked and how much of it was awarded on a competitive basis? Please provide a breakdown.
DHS: Zero earmarks. As I previously told you, this is a competitive application process. I encourage you to contact the Consortium for a breakdown of their awardees.
Post: Why did you initially tell us on Nov. 30 that this money was "an earmark. DHS is not a decision-maker with respect to where the funding goes"? Do you still stand by this comment? If not, why not?
DHS: I do not stand by the Nov 30 email. As my last message clearly stated, which included my apology to you, I initially provided you with what has turned out to be not completely accurate information, as erroneously provided to me by one of our directorate's. This is not an earmark. In fact, DHS participates in the competitive application process.
Post: Did Rep. Hal Rogers or anyone representing him call you or anyone at DHS or any of its agencies to discuss whether this money was earmarked or competitively awarded after your Nov. 30 e-mail?
DHS: As a routine matter, I inform our legislative affairs office when a press inquiry involves the department's relationship with a member of Congress. I have never spoken with Chairman Rogers; nor do I recall speaking with his staff since my Nov 30 email to you.
Post: If the money was awarded competitively, how was it done, under what program and who were the other competitors?
DHS: This was an open competition. I am not going to disclose the specifics, other than to say that all schools that are a part of the Consortium are eligible to apply and that DHS played an active role in reviewing the applications. I refer you to the Consortium for any further questions.
Post: We are requesting an interview with the chief of the S&T directorate or the person in charge of awarding this money to the Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium and the Institute for Hometown Security.
DHS: Thank you, but we will pass. As always, I am happy to answer your questions.
Post: Who wrote the grant applications on behalf of the Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium and the Institute of Homeland Security? We are requesting copies of the cover sheets of those applications.
DHS: Principal investigators from each institution applying for a competitive grant write the actual applications. I do not have the applications, nor would I distribute them publicly if I did.
Post: Did Representative Rogers play a role in directing any of this money to the Kentucky colleges and universities? If so, what was his role and what money was he responsible for directing?
DHS: Chairman Rogers played a direct role in developing and organizing the Consortium, not in the distribution of funds. Again, these are competitive grants, not earmarks.
Post: In your Dec. 9 e-mail, you reported that Eastern Kentucky University received $5 million in FY 05 under the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium. Was this an earmark? If so, by whom? Or was it competitively bid? And if so, who were the other bidders?
DHS: This was a competitive grant. As a matter of practice, I do not disclose competition details.
Post: In the same e-mail, you reported that Eastern Kentucky University received a $2.9 million grant in FY 04 under the Competitive Training Grant Program. Was this an earmark? If so, by whom? Or was it competitively bid as the title of the program suggests? If so, who were the other bidders?
DHS: This was a competitive grant. Again, as a matter of practice, I do not disclose competition details. You can clearly see from the list that there were multiple CTGP grants in FY04.
Post: Why was the money to Eastern Kentucky University moved from the CTGP to the RDPC, and at whose direction?
DHS: No. These are separate programs.
Post: We are renewing our long-standing request to interview Kip Hawley, who was sworn in on the day the RFPs went out for the smaller explosive detection machines. We have been told by DHS that the decision to decline our request was made at DHS headquarters. Why has the department declined to make Mr. Hawley available for an interview?
DHS: Thank you again for that request, but we will pass. I have answered each of your questions to the best of my ability, in as open and responsive of a manner possible. You have also be given access to several DHS officials who have hands-on knowledge of the Reveal contract.