South Dakota has Raked in $100 Million in Homeland Security Grants Despite No Known Terrorist Threats…Ever

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Hostage drill in Yankton South Dakota (photo: Kelly Hertz, Yankton Press and Dakotan)

Billions of tax dollars have poured out of Washington D.C. since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to help states and local governments better secure their populations against terrorist threats. But the money allocated to one state demonstrates the questionable decision-making that comes from trying to prevent future threats on U.S. soil.


South Dakota, which has only 800,000 residents, has received $100 million in grants from the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. This largesse has been bestowed on a state with no known terrorist threats, now or ever.


Money has gone towards purchasing firefighting equipment and police surveillance technology, as well as software to protect against cyber attacks, and more.


Some of it was even spent to prepare for roadside bombs—the kind deployed against American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq that have never been used in South Dakota or any other U.S. state.


The only potential threats facing South Dakota, according to a state strategic plan, come from white supremacist groups and environmentalists opposed to uranium mining and the Keystone XL pipeline.


“We were unable to determine the extent to which the [federal homeland security] grants enhanced the state’s ability to prepare for and respond to disasters and acts of terrorism,” the report by the agency’s inspector general (IG) states.


And after accepting so much money, state officials can’t even quantify the effectiveness of the funding. “The state does not have a system to measure preparedness,” the IG reported.



State officials justify some of the expenditures by saying they’re being used to improve interoperability of first-responder communications systems.


According to 2011 data, South Dakota ranks fifth among states in per-capita homeland security spending, behind Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota and Alaska.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

State Gets Millions in Homeland Security Grants, But Where Does It Go? (by Joe O'Sullivan, Rapid City Journal)

South Dakota’s Management of Homeland Security Grant Program Awards for Fiscal Years 2010 Through 2012 (Department of Homeland Security, Inspector General) (pdf)


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