DHS Announces $1.8 Billion in Grants to States, Cities

By Matthew Harwood

States and cities at risk of natural disasters and terrorism will receive nearly $1.8 billion in federal preparedness grants to protect, prevent, respond, and recover from potential calamities this fiscal year, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“These grants provide direct support for regional preparedness, urban security, and medical response efforts in communities across the country,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “The new grants management initiative launched this year will generate better value for every grant dollar while strengthening our nation’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from all disasters.”

The overwhelming majority of that money, $1.7 billion, will go to the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP). Here's how the money will be allocated within the program, according to DHS.

State Homeland Security Program (SHSP)—$861.1 million will build and strengthen preparedness capabilities at all levels through planning, equipment, and readiness activities.

Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)—$798.6 million will enhance urban preparedness capabilities in 62high-threat, high-density areas. The seven highest risk areas (Tier 1) were allocated approximately $439 million, or 55 percent of available funds, while the remaining areas (Tier 2) will receive approximately the remaining $359 million.

Metropolitan Medical Response System Program (MMRS)—$39.8 million, divided evenly among 124 MMRS jurisdictions, will improve regional mass casualty incident preparedness and response capabilities.

Citizen Corps Program (CCP)—$14.6 million will bring community and government leaders together to engage citizens in community preparedness, response and recovery activities.

The increase in total funds going to the HSGP is less than 1 percent over last year.
And as Napolitano announces a new round of preparedness grants to protect the country from all hazards, The Atlantic Monthly's new issue argues that the department has been largely a failure. Nevertheless, journalist Jim Fallows says eliminating it will do more harm than good. But he does have some recommendations for DHS:

So, two ways to mitigate the damage: change the offensive, antirepublican, Teutono-Soviet name Homeland to Civil, as in Department of Civil Security. And make civil-security spending what national-security spending was in the Eisenhower era, when interstate-highway-building and language-teaching were all part of “national defense”: an umbrella for investments in new energy and water supplies, public health, basic research, and other efforts that will actually make us more secure.

Which naturally begs the question: Is Fallows correct? Is DHS largely an inefficient mess that hasn't lived up to its billing?
Let's hear it in comments.
♦ Photo by Raymond_Yee/Flickr



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