A Rundown of Key Federal Grants Programs

March 17, 2004
After delay and confusion, responders are receiving billions in new funding.

After 9/11, President George Bush promised more funds to help responders cope with the threat of terrorism. It took a long time before the federal government could gear up and begin delivering on those promises.

Today, after years of confusion, delay and complaints, billions of federal dollars have begun to flow towards state and local homeland security agencies in the form of grants and funding programs. This is in addition to money spent on programs implemented by federal authorities.

In fiscal year 2003, for example, federal funds paid to train thousands of responders and medical personnel to handle hazmat, WMD and bioterrorism emergencies. They supported security upgrades at large ports, dozens of municipal water systems and many mass transit systems. They funded uncounted personal protective ensembles (PPEs) and more than 1,300 new fire trucks.

Federal funding, dispersed largely through the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will have an even greater impact in fiscal 2004. DHS's Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) plans to spend more than $4 billion for emergency prevention, preparedness and response personnel. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will add nearly $1 billion more.

There are many reasons it took so long. One is the sheer size of creating, staffing and administering the new cabinet-level DHS. Two-and-one-half years after 9/11, the federal government is still grappling with the best way to deliver money which really means capabilities to responders.

DHS is well on its way to becoming the clearinghouse for homeland security grants. It acquired many of these programs from other agencies. ODP, for example, came from the Department of Justice. FEMA was an independent agency. DHS is working overtime to develop a more coherent and uniform way to deliver these funds.

This is a huge administrative task. Along the way, DHS has dropped, moved, consolidated, or even restarted formerly dead programs. It has along with other federal agencies revised virtually every program to place more emphasis on terrorist threats.

DHS has also struggled with a problem most responders would like to have how to deal with huge budget increases. Funding for FEMA's Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, for example, rose to $750 million in 2003 and 2004, from $360 million in 2002 and $100 million in 2001. The Port Security Grant Program, which did not exist in 2001, spent its budgeted $170 million in 2003 and was then given another $179 million in supplemental funds. DHS has struggled to distribute and supervise these funds and programs effectively.

The biggest changes over the past two years involve philosophy. DHS has three central principles to guide funding. First, DHS wants to fund all-hazards equipment and training that can be used in any emergency, from bioterrorism to flooding.

Second, all grants should help local responders support the National Response Plan (NRP), a single comprehensive approach to domestic incident management that is still in development. Third, because states play a key role in NRP planning and management, they are in the best position to distribute funds to responders who can support statewide emergency plans.

This emphasis on overarching strategy is a big switch from the past, when police, fire and EMS were judged simply on the basis of whether they needed new equipment or not.

The result is a funding system in flux. Many programs still continue to provide responders with direct funding. This may change as DHS takes firmer control of funding programs and moves more disbursement decisions to the states.

Even then, local responders will benefit from understanding the major federal homeland security funding programs. By aligning their own grant requests with federal priorities, they improve their chances of receiving funds. By taking advantage of direct funding for local governments and businesses, they can close gaps in state and local security plans.

Given the number of available grants and flux in funding, the following list of programs cannot be complete. It covers major grant opportunities for first responders, local emergency managers and business. It also includes resources for further information.

Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP). AFGP is the most important source of direct federal funding for local fire departments and their EMS and rescue units. (Stand-alone EMS and rescue units do not qualify.) FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration manages AFG, which is budgeted for $750 million in 2004. This year's program will emphasize WMD preparedness, including training. Applicants can apply in only one of three categories: fire/EMS operations, fire prevention and vehicles.
What it funds: AFG funds firefighting and personal protective equipment, training, wellness and fitness (including vaccinations and stationhouse fitness equipment), and a limited number of firehouse modifications (station fire alarms, sprinklers and vehicle exhaust extraction). AFGP can spend up to 25 percent of its budget on new, used and rehabbed vehicles more than 1,300 last year. It is mandated to spend at least 5 percent (usually 7-8 percent) on fire prevention, including code writing and enforcement. www.usfa.fema.gov/fire-service/grants/afgp/grants.shtm

Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG). In 2004, FEMA will disperse $173.5 million to the states to pay for statewide and local disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery programs. Although FEMA has stated priorities for each of these areas, states are allowed to allocate funds based on risk and their own pressing needs. EMPG emphasizes planning and is supposed to fill gaps not covered by other federal programs.
What it funds: EMPG breaks emergency management down into 13 functional areas. These range from state and local administration and risk assessment to planning, training, exercises, logistics, and public communication and education. Funds can be used to improve emergency operation, mitigation, logistics/distribution, alert, and continuity of operations. They can encourage mutual aid agreements and ensure responder capabilities. EMPG also funds training, especially all-hazards exercises involving multiple jurisdictions, and community preparedness. www.fema.gov/preparedness/empg.shtm

Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP).
With $2.2 billion to disperse through the states, the ODP-administered HSGP grant is clearly the mother of all homeland security programs. While HSGP is new in 2004, it actually consolidates three existing programs in order to streamline funding and administration. It consists of the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP), Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP) and the Citizen Corps Program (CCP). All three are designed to improve the ability of state and local agencies to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) weapons. Funding is guided by State Homeland Security Assessments and Strategies.
What SHSGP funds: SHSGP provides $1.7 billion to prepare responders to deal with CBRNE attacks. It funds the purchase of specialized equipment, development of training courses and hands-on exercises. It pays for cyber-security training and exercises. It also covers costs associated with implementing State Homeland Security Assessments and Strategies. SHSGP is also called a basic formula grant because ODP uses a formula to determine each state's funding.
What LETPP funds: The $500 million LETPP seeks to prevent terrorism. In 2004, it will support information sharing to preempt terrorist attacks; hardening to make high value targets less vulnerable; recognition of potential and developing threats; interoperable communications; and apprehension of terrorists. Funds may be used for planning, organization, training, exercises and equipment.
What CCP funds: The $35 million CCP funds planning, outreach and management of Citizen Corps programs and activities. The program seeks to create sustainable organizations that engage all citizens and that can help educate the public about its role in emergency preparedness, response and mitigation. www.ojp.usdoj.gov/docs/fy04hsgp.pdf

Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Grant Program. ODP's UASI program earmarks $675 million to enhance security in highthreat, high-density urban areas and an additional $50 million to protect mass transit systems with heavy rail and commuter rail components. The emphasis is on metropolitan regions as defined by UASI. States must ensure any program they fund promotes comprehensive, coordinated regional plans. It must include core cities as well as suburbs, contiguous jurisdictions, mutual aid partners and state agencies.
What it funds: Funding is based on the Urban Area Homeland Security Strategies and a Transit Security and Emergency Preparedness Plan developed through UASI. The program funds planning, training, exercises and cyber-security. Money can be used for equipment ranging from PPEs and interoperable communications through CBRNE detection, mitigation and decontamination equipment. It even supports CBRNE response boats and aviation equipment. www.ojp.usdoj.gov/docs/fy04uasi.pdf

Port Security Grants. The DHS Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will spend $125 million to improve security at the nation's major shipping ports. This is less than in 2003, when TSA budgeted $170 million and added an additional $179 million in supplemental funding. ODP also spent an additional $75 million under its UASI Port Security Grant for specific projects at major ports. Grants have gone to hundreds of applicants (some more than one award) throughout the country.
What it funds: Port Security Grants fund security assessment, planning and mitigation, as well as projects to improve dockside and perimeter security. These might range from improved lighting and fencing to video surveillance and CBRNE detectors. In 2003, $20 million went towards port incident response exercise training. Grantees include public and private ports, terminals and commuter vessels (such as ferries), as well as state and local port authorities in strategic, controlled or economically significant ports. www.portsecuritygrants.dottsa.net

Operation Safe Commerce Grants. Operation Safe Commerce is a TSA pilot program to search for security gaps as containers enter the United States and move from ports through the supply chain. It brings together local, state and federal governments, ports and private business to identify and test solutions in realworld operations. Funding is $17 million in 2004, down from $28 million in 2003.
What it funds: The program uses existing technology to monitor the movement and integrity of containers through the supply chain. Only the ports of New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles/Long Beach, and Seattle/Tacoma have received grants. www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/asset_summary/asset_su mmary_0517.xml

Intercity Bus Grants. This TSA program sets aside $10 million to improve security on public and private intercity bus services.
What it funds: The program pays for driver protection; bus monitoring, tracking and communications; passenger and baggage screening; and security assessment. It funds training so personnel can recognize and respond to criminal and terrorist threats. It also pays for fencing, lighting, surveillance equipment, and other security infrastructure where buses are parked and maintained. www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/asset_summary/ asset_summary_0517.xml

Truck Security (Highway Watch) Grants. Most of the $23 million TSA allotted for Truck Security goes towards Highway Watch, which trains commercial drivers to observe and report suspicious activities and items.
What it funds: TSA has four priorities to get the Highway Watch program off the ground: recruitment of drivers, training, communications, and information analysis and distribution. www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/asset_summary/ asset_summary_0517.xml

Hazardous Materials Assistance Program (CERCLA Implementation). Because hazardous materials can be used as weapons by terrorists, hazmat emergency planning and training has become essential. This grant funds state, local, and tribal training under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
What it funds: The emphasis is on interoperable capabilities. Funding supports equipment and personnel time used specifically for hazmat training and emergencies rather than day-to-day operations. www.fema.gov/regions

National Fire Academy Educational Program. These grants provide training to improve the skills of professionals in fire prevention and control at the National Fire Academy (NFA).
What it funds: The NFA Education Program State funds classes at NFA. Fire Training Systems Grants pays for local delivery of NFA classes and programs. A third program, NFA Training Assistance, covers the cost of transpiration to the NFA in Emmitsburg, Md., or regional classes. www.usfa.fema.gov/ fireservice/nfa/courses/catalog.shtm

National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Response System. FEMA sponsors 28 immediately deployable US&R teams to locate, extricate and medically stabilize victims of structural collapse following a disaster.
What it funds: Only the 28 sponsoring US&R jurisdictions receive aid, which includes advanced training and sophisticated monitoring, medical and rescue equipment for emergency use. www.fema.gov/usr

Cooperative Agreement for Public Health Preparedness and Response to Bioterrorism. In 2003, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spent $870 million to help state and some big city public health departments prepare for bioterrorism, outbreaks of infectious diseases and other public health emergencies.
What it funds: Awardees must address assessment and planning, surveillance and epidemiology, laboratory capacity for biological and chemical agents, health alert communications, risk communication, education and training. www.bt.cdc.gov/planning/continuationguidance

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Demonstration Project. As part of the Citizens Corp, MRC units are health care professionals who serve as volunteers during community medical emergencies.
What it funds: The program seeks to demonstrate whether public, nonprofit or community-based organizations can establish and sustain voluntary MRCs with comprehensive response capabilities. www.medicalreservecorps.gov

Byrne State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance (Byrne Formula Grant Program). Originally established to fight violent crime and serious offenders, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grant now funds preparedness and investigation of terrorist attacks as well as subsequent adjudication. DOJ distributes funds to the states, which can make subgrants to localities.
What it funds: Byrne Grants pay for personnel, equipment, training, technical assistance and information systems. They specifically authorize development and implementation of antiterrorism plans for deep draft ports, international airports and other important facilities. They also pay for antiterrorism training and equipment for local law enforcement. www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/byrne.html

Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) Program. LLEBG underwrites projects to reduce crime and improve public safety in seven designated areas, including domestic preparedness and counterterrorism. BJA provides funds directly to local government.
What it funds: LLEBG preparedness grants focus on hiring, paying, equipping and training law enforcement personnel; enhancing school and public building security; establishing multijurisdictional task forces; creating community-based crime prevention programs; and improving legal prosecution of violent offenders. www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA/grant/llebg_app.html

Interoperable Communications Program. In 2003, DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) spent $66 million for municipal law enforcement interoperable communications and another $12 million on research. COPS targets funds at 74 large metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).
What it funds: COPS funds demonstration projects that advance technologies and techniques to make communications between different jurisdictions and different organizations within a single jurisdiction more interoperable. Localities must pay for 25 percent of total program cost.www.cops.usdoj.gov

Homeland Security Overtime Program. COPS has set aside a small amount of money to pay state and local overtime costs associated with community policing and homeland security.
What it funds: Priority goes to state, local and tribal agencies that use the funds for terrorism preparedness or response through community policing. Funds are allocated on the basis of population and department size. www.cops.usdoj.gov

Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program. This program provides services and assistance to first responders who may have suffered traumatic effects following a terrorist attack. It is run by DOJ's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC).
What it funds: The program funds organizations that provide services to victims of terrorism, which includes responders. Funded agencies include state victim assistance and compensation programs, public agencies, and nongovernmental victim service organizations. www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/fund/dakit.htm

Water Protection Grants to the States. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants support technical assistance, training and communications to protect critical drinking water infrastructure.
What it funds: EPA has three priorities: helping states and tribes assess the vulnerability of their drinking water systems; updating public works emergency response plans; and improving communications between public works and security or emergency response organizations. www.epa.gov/epahome/grants.htm

Vulnerability Assessments and Related Security Improvements at Large Drinking Water Utilities. This EPA program seeks to help publicly-owned drinking water systems serving 100,000 people or more to assess and address vulnerabilities. Grants are up to $115,000.
What it funds: This program funds development of vulnerability assessments and emergency operating plans, as well as improvement of security plans and designs. www.epa.gov/safewater/security/large_grants.html

Grant Program Resources

DHS Homeland Security Grants and Training. The DHS starting point for information on grant programs. Comprehensive and relatively up-to-date, with links to other grant-giving agencies. Web: www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0355.xml.

USFA Guide to Federal Resources for Emergency Services Departments. The U.S. Fire Academy's listing of federal programs broken down by type (formula, direct grants, loans, training, etc.). Very useful. Web: www.usfa.fema.gov/fire-service/grants/federal/fedguide/fedguide.shtm.

Funding Alternatives for Fire and Emergency Services. Think of it as the yellow pages of responder funding. From local taxes to state services and federal grant proposals, FEMA offers detailed information on funding fire and emergency services. Web: www.usfa.fema.gov/applications/publications/display.cfm?it=5-0344.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. An online database of all federal programs available to state and local governments, tribes and territories. Searchable by key word or program number. Excellent information but sometimes a bit dated. Web: www.cfda.gov.

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