Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Two Washington Post reporters won a top award for investigative reporting for their coverage of problems in the Department of Homeland Security, it was announced yesterday.

Scott Higham and Robert O'Harrow Jr. won the top award for newspapers of circulation greater than 500,000 in the Investigative Reporters and Editors investigative reporting competition. IRE is a nonprofit organization created to improve investigative reporting.

The judges said no one documented "the full magnitude, cost and consequences" of the problems plaguing the Department of Homeland Security until Higham and O'Harrow published their series titled "The High Price of Homeland Security."

The judges said the Post reporters "showed how billions have been wasted because of lax financial controls, outmoded technologies, inexperienced contractors and political influence."

The series prompted DHS procurement reforms and investigations by Congress and a federal fraud task force, the judges said.

The IRE medal, the organization's highest award, went to the Hackensack, N.J., Record newspaper and the television station WJW (Channel 8) in Cleveland.

The Hackensack newspaper reported on toxic waste left from a shuttered auto assembly plant in New Jersey, according to the judges.

The Cleveland station revealed deception and mismanagement in the transportation department of the Cleveland school district, the judges said.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company