Totaling over $2.5 billion in direct assistance to state and local governments for their preparedness and planning needs, these funds augment the nearly $9 billion already delivered to state and local governments and first responders since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
"This funding enhances the preparedness of the entire nation while targeting resources where they are needed most," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "The continuing maturation of our grants programs, streamlined distribution process and greater accountability measures will ensure that, with this new allocation of over $2.5 billion, we are even better enhancing the capabilities of our nation's first responders to prevent terrorism and respond to emergencies. State and local jurisdictions can expect even more support in the coming months, as we announce further awards in port security, mass transit security and assistance to fire fighters."
Under the state Homeland Security Grant Program, each state, territory and the District of Columbia receives a portion of the $1.66 billion in grants based on a formula consisting of a baseline amount plus the population of the state or territory. The funding is used for equipment, training, planning and exercises. The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) provides additional resources to those areas with greater security needs by allocating $855 million in a formula that considers a number of factors including population and population density; critical infrastructure; threat information; formal mutual aid cooperation; and law enforcement investigations and enforcement activity.
The recipients of this round of FY 2005 Homeland Security grants will benefit from new measures recently adopted following recommendations from a task force convened by Ridge to expedite the flow of funds. State and local governments may now have up to 120 days to draw down funds in advance of purchase and investments, as compared to the three to five days allowed previously, so that even small localities have the buying power to purchase expensive or backordered equipment. The Department of Homeland Security also has hosted training seminars and coordination calls with states and urban areas to ensure that they are coordinating to prevent delays in the funding flow. Combined with a streamlined online application process, these statutory and educational measures will help Homeland Security funds flow as fast as possible to the hands that need them.
All 56 states and territories and the UASI areas have conducted risk, capability, and needs assessments, and have developed multi-year homeland security strategies as a condition of grant awards. The DHS maintains oversight controls with onsite monitoring of all states, territories and UASI areas, and the reporting requirements provide additional oversight to ensure that states and localities spend their grants for the homeland security priorities identified in their strategies.
"With these new grants, the Department of Homeland Security is building upon nearly $9 billion already allocated to equip, train and prepare our first responders and local law enforcement to prevent incidents and to be ready should one occur," said C. Suzanne Mencer, executive director of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness. "I have visited states and communities and observed restored emergency operations centers, sophisticated equipment, multi-discipline exercises and new networks of communication and planning. I am inspired by the efforts conducted by these homeland security professionals across the country. This new round of grants will enhance the work already underway and address the new priorities the department and our state and local partners continue to identify."