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by Josh Filler: Homeland security issues including prevention and protection

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April 2011 Archives
April 12, 2011

It’s here. Well, the bill hasn’t passed and the President has not signed it into law, but the House and Senate have agreed upon the funding details for what remains of Federal FY 2011. In that agreement rests the funding numbers for the homeland security grant programs. While most of the programs survived, virtually all of the programs suffered cuts. Some suffered dramatic cuts. Here are the details:

Fire Fighter Assistance Grants - $810 million, which includes:
 $405 million for equipment
 $405 million for personnel
 
State Homeland Security Program - $725 million, which includes:
$55 million for Stonegarden
$45 million for Driver’s License Security
$10 million for Citizen Corps
$35 million for MMRS

Urban Areas Security Initiative - $725 million, which includes:
 $19 million for Non-Profit Security Grants

Transit Security Grant program - $250 million, which includes:
 $20 million for Amtrak
 $5 million for Over the Road Bus Security Grants

Port Security Grant Program - $250 million

Emergency Management Performance Grants - $340 million

Emergency Operations Center Grants - $15 million

Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grants - $15 million

 

Grants that have been zeroed out (not funded) for FY 2011 are:

Buffer Zone Protection Program

Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program

Only the Assistance to Firefighters and Emergency Management Performance Grants were  funded at the same level as in FY 2010.  Beyond BZPP and IECGP, the big loser for FY 2011 was clearly the SHSP, which is actually funded at $580 million in FY 2011 compared to $890 million in SHSP funding in FY 2010, when you account for several of the other grant programs that are now being counted as part of SHSP, but were stand alone programs in prior years. This $580 million includes the 25% for law enforcement terrorism prevention activities. The requirement that 25% of UASI funding go towards law enforcement terrorism prevention activities also applies in FY 2011.  The UASI program, while not the biggest loser among the grants, was by no means a winner in the process. The $162 million cut to UASI, compared to FY 2010 funding levels, will have a major impact on the program going forward as discussed below. 

None of the above listed funding numbers for FY 2011 include the 5.8% that FEMA will take off the top for Management and Administration of the grants. Therefore, the above funding numbers will actually go down even further. In addition, under the bill, FEMA has up to 25 days to release grant guidance for SHSP and UASI and the applicants can be given up to 90 days to apply. However, since the funds are one year money, meaning FEMA has to award the money to the States before September 30, 2011; FEMA will likely give the States 30 days to apply instead of the usual 90 days. 

The Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) amendment, which passed the House of Representatives as part of H.R. 1 and limited the UASI program to 25 cities, is not part of the final budget bill. However, with the large cut in UASI funding, it is now on DHS to decide how to distribute the remaining UASI funds. This will likely turn on how DHS decides to treat New York City. If DHS decides to hold New York harmless and fund the city at the same level as FY 2010, it will have to impose large cuts on the remaining UASI cities and/or trim the list by dropping certain cities. If DHS cuts New York in order to salvage the current list of UASI’s it will incur the wrath of New York similar to what happened in FY 2006 when the city saw a cut in its funding as compared to the previous fiscal year. This is no enviable task for DHS as it will be attacked no matter what it decides to do.

Finally, State and Urban Areas must do a better job of explaining the benefits of the SHSP and UASI programs in terms of how the programs reduce the nation’s risk to terrorism and other hazards by enhancing capabilities. This must be data driven and go beyond simply anecdotes of good things purchased. Congress must be given some performance measures and metrics to determine the value of its investment in State and local homeland security preparedness. As with the overall budget, the fights and cuts in Congress in FY 2011 are small compared to what is coming in FY 2012. Thus, cuts to homeland security grants could get even deeper and the time for States and Urban Areas to organize in order to salvage these programs is getting smaller as well. 


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