When at the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Conference held recently in Seattle there was a session on Homeland Security Grants with the Grant Programs Directorate, Assistant Administrator, Elizabeth Harman doing the talking. See my notes below from that session.
Expect March of 2013 to get the guidance. There will be a very condensed time frame for applying. They will want more detailed information on the projects that are submitted. State’s want a heads-up so that they can plan for the new requirements. Will it be 24 months, or 18 months for the period of performance? They don’t know at this point.
They continue to push for consolidation and funding going to State SAs. National Preparedness Grants: The intent is to reduce duplication, "What are transit and ports doing with the money?"
Information Bulletin 379, check it out for information on flexibility being given to spend grant funds down.
There is a draw-down issue of grant funds not being spent. For all grants, $8.3B is still on the books not being spent. It was acknowledged that some past practices have provided an administrative burden. They have worked to simplify some of the processes. EHP was mentioned as a previous issue. Where is the pain? Past policies, like the requirement to spend 25% of funding on IED.
No more extensions – is the word. A few have been given, expect no more.
For Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) 20% is reverting back to Treasury. On average it is only 1% for other grant programs.
Financial reports are sent to the Hill quarterly. Need to talk to the people on the Hill (Congress) to explain the processes.
FFY14 the National Preparedness program is moving ahead. The question now is, “How much does it cost to maintain what you have?” Expect more questions on this topic for future grant funds. They have gotten this type of info from the urban areas who are no longer funded (The list of eligible cities/metro areas went from 64 to 32).
Some of the discontinued UASI programs are being funded by states using other “general” e.g. SHSP funds.
They still plan to move forward with a “bold vision” of reforming grants. What is the mechanism for funding grants? How can you fix the trust issue that people have with states? [I think this is the major issue.]
Comment was made that there needs to be Federal guidance about UASI and Transit and Port funding to have budgets in order.
Too much has been spent on “things” and with the economy what it is, you need to preserve staff.
Need flexibility to how funding is used.
Sequestration question. Don’t know what the impact will be. But, grants are always an issue.
Preview on Cyber: Not enough is being done. Attacks coming everyday. This is an “all of government” issue along with our private partners. [I'd expect 2013 grant guidance to have a cyber emphasis.]