PSIC Spending Hits $300M in Latest Federal Report (1/11/11)
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | Comments

By Sandra Wendelken
Less than one-third of grant money under the nearly $1 billion Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) program was drawn down as of March 31, 2010, according to a report from the US. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General (OIG). Just more than $300 million of the total $968.385 million available under the program had been drawn down, leaving $668.36 million for states to spend by the 2012 deadline.

More states had drawn down less than 10 percent of their PSIC funds than had used more than 70 percent of the monies, according to the report. The most difficult requirement for public-safety agencies is that grantees must provide matching shares to meet eligibility for the program, managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Under a 2009 bill extending the deadline for spending the grant money, public-safety agencies now have until Sept. 30, 2012 to spend the nearly $1 billion in grant money, a two-year extension over the original September 2010 deadline.

“We did not find any indication that grantees will not meet the PSIC award period deadline,” the report said. “However, grantees are having difficulty meeting and documenting nonfederal matching fund requirements. Also, NTIA has not closely monitored the grantees to prevent ineligible matching share claims.”

OIG audited several states to determine whether states are on track with distributing and spending the money. Each state has an administrative agency responsible for providing the money to local and regional jurisdictions within the state.

In an audit of the California Emergency management Agency (CALEMA), OIG said the state was on track to complete its investments before the end of the award period. However, CALEMA hasn’t provided proper documentation for almost $600,000 of its nonfederal matching share, which could lead to a $2.4 million reduction in federal funds allowed. California was awarded more than $94 million in PSIC funds. The audit also said CALEMA hasn’t complied with PSIC requirements in several areas, including not fulfilling reporting requirements, insufficiently monitoring subrecipients, allowing ineligible costs incurred by subrecipients and claiming costs for vehicle repairs and other invalid expenditures. OIG questioned $73,474 of the costs CALEMA claimed during the audit period from Oct. 1, 2007, through June 30, 2009.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) received nearly $43 million in PSIC money and is on track to complete its nine investments before the end of the award period, according to an OIG audit of Florida. “While FDEM generally complied with the terms and conditions of the PSIC grant, it did not fully comply with cash drawdown requirements,” the audit said. “FDEM also claimed funds for unallowable management and administration costs on behalf of itself and its subrecipients.”

Both states have taken actions to correct any mistakes, and audits of other states found most programs on track. OIG also audited Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania.

Several public-safety officials said they are using the funds to improve interoperability within their jurisdictions. The grant program was established under the Digital TV Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005. Federal officials recently told the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) that funds awarded under PSIC can be used for narrowbanding projects.

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