The Daily Caller recently reported on and posted an embargoed Department of Homeland Security Inspector General audit of a FEMA fire prevention grant to the ACORN. In fiscal year 2007, ACORN created the ACORN Institute to specifically apply for a $1 million FEMA grant to help urban communities prevent fires. According to the Inspector General audit, FEMA’s grant application review panel recommended against awarding ACORN grant funding because of concerns over ACORN’s lack of fire prevention experience and doubts about the proposed project’s effectiveness. Despite the panel’s rejection based on the merits of ACORN’s grant application, FEMA awarded ACORN $450,484 in grant funding.
The Inspector General audit found that ACORN mislead FEMA by stating in its grant application that ACORN was experienced at implementing fire prevention programs in Madison, North Carolina, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Berkley, California. The Inspector General found that ACORN did not have any involvement in fire prevention programs in these communities.
In addition, the audit found that FEMA awarded ACORN the grant funding despite rejecting or funding at lower levels other organizations applying for grants to fund similar fire prevention programs. The Inspector General audit concluded that “the lack of experience ACORN Institute demonstrated in fire prevention and safety and its unconfirmed collaboration with experts in this area, FEMA should not have awarded these grants to ACORN Institute.”
Despite billions in grants across the United States, the FEMA’s fire grant program has not reduced the number of deaths and injuries resulting from fires. A Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report found that “fire grants, including grants that subsidize the salaries of firefighters, had no impact on fire casualties [and] failed to reduce firefighter deaths, firefighter injuries, civilian deaths, or civilian injuries.” More damning, the report found that fire departments that did not received federal grants “were just as successful at preventing fire casualties as grant-funded fire departments.”