According to a report from the “CaliforniaWatch” project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, government spending on Homeland Security has been characterised by “wasteful spending, purchasing violations, error-prone accounting and shoddy oversight”.

Among the findings:

• Inspectors identified more than $15 million in questionable costs. The Lincoln Police Department in Placer County spent $47,000 on computer software designed to analyze crime reports so officials could better apply resources but, like Marin County, didn’t use what they bought.

• Cities and agencies bought things with grant money that would not make California a safer place. One county tried to use anti-terrorism funds for a lawnmower but it was blocked at the last minute. Another county succeeded in buying a big-screen television.

• Dozens of cities and agencies failed to keep adequate records on how they spent the money. In some cases, the poor record keeping resulted in thousands of dollars worth of overpayments to local agencies. In other cases, agencies were unable to find where they stored their own equipment.

• Communities repeatedly bought large and small-ticket items without seeking competitive bids. Federal procurement rules designed to protect the taxpayer weren’t used on millions of dollars in new communications systems, night-vision goggles and bomb-disposal robots.

Surely it couldn’t happen here in Europe?

Read the CIR report.