DHS rolls out a series of grants for the nation's First Responders, cities and states

Heather A. McTavish
Government Relations Associate
APWA Washington Office

Springtime appeared to be lucrative for the country's largest municipalities when it came to their homeland defense budgets. Since Congress passed the Fiscal Year (FY) '03 Budget in February and the FY '03 Supplemental in April, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) has made nearly $4 billion available in grants to states and cities to assist them in preventing, preparing and responding to terrorism.

$566 million was made available on March 7 to states and cities from the FY '03 budget to assist First Responders. The money was designated for equipment, training, planning and exercises.

$750 million was made available on March 10 to help rural, urban and suburban fire departments better train, prepare and equip themselves.

$100 million was made available on April 8 to specific cities as part of the urban area security initiative component in the FY '03 budget. The money was appropriated to help enhance a local government's ability to secure large, populated areas and its critical infrastructure.

$165 million was made available on April 16 to the states and municipalities from the Supplemental FY '03 budget to help state and local law enforcement pay for equipment, planning, training and exercises. The money was also designated to help decrease cost overruns associated with enhanced security measures during heightened threat periods.

$700 million was made available from the FY '03 Supplemental Budget on May 14 to enhance the security of 30 urban areas. Selection was based on a formula developed by the Department of Homeland Security that takes into account threat information, critical infrastructure, and population density. $223 million has been made available to New York City and its outlying areas since September 11. $76 million has been made available in the form of grants to Washington, D.C. since September 11.

$75 million will be provided to ports in the U.S. deemed high-threat. The top five high-threat ports are New York/New Jersey, Seattle, Miami, Port Canaveral, FL and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Allowed uses for those funds include:

  • Operational activities conducted during orange alert from January 2003 through April 2003;
  • Critical infrastructure security;
  • Security enhancements;
  • Training, exercises, equipment, planning and information sharing.
$65 million will be provided through the States to the highest risk transit systems in the country. The top five transit systems considered to be high risk include New York City Transit, Chicago Transit Authority, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. States could use 20 percent of the award for each transportation agency to complement state assets at those sites. Allowable uses of funds would include:
  • Installation of physical barricades;
  • Area monitoring systems such as video surveillance, motion detectors, thermal/IR imagery and chemical/radiological material detection systems;
  • Integrated communications systems;
  • Prevention planning, training and exercises;
  • Operational activities conducted during orange alert from January 2003 through April 2003 (overtime, limited to 10 percent of the gross award). If not already completed, each transit system would be required to conduct an assessment and preparedness plan on which to base resource allocations.
$35 million will be made available to implement a radiological defensive system in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area ($30 million), and the Charleston, South Carolina Metropolitan Area ($5 million). The proposed $35 million in funding would be part of the Radiological Dispersion Device/Improvised Nuclear Device Project run out of Border and Transportation Security within DHS. This program would work with federal, state and local partners to improve detection, prevention, response, mitigation, and recovery through training, equipping, and coordinating from a broad perspective.

$15 million will be made available through a discretionary grant program for the development of projects that would affect high density urban areas, high-threat areas, and for the protection of critical infrastructure.

$10 million would be allocated to provide technical assistance to state and local jurisdictions receiving funding under the critical infrastructure protection program. This assistance would be in the form of direct services and would include, but not be limited to, interoperable communications assistance, assistance with conducting assessments, assistance with developing emergency operations and site security plans, implementation of the radiological defense system, and development and conduct of exercises.

Additional homeland security funding could become available to states and cities. The President's FY '04 budget request includes over $3.5 billion in grants to help states and cities prepare and respond to terrorism. APWA will continue to monitor the activities of DHS to determine if and when dollars are or become available to municipalities.

Heather McTavish can be reached at (202) 408-9541 or at hmctavish@apwa.net.