Assurance office will dole out federal funds

Ron Miller, CIO of FEMA, said the agency will distribute the funds, but it will not disseminate threat information because it does not have a system in place to do so in real time.

The federal government is establishing an information technology program office within the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, which will distribute federal homeland security grants to local governments.

The new program office also will provide a communications framework for agencies across all levels of government, said Ron Miller, chief information officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Miller said the government will provide "a secure communications suite" to the states that will enable state officials to receive classified information about terrorist threats. To fund this, the federal government has set aside $7 million. Once it is distributed to the states and U.S. territories, it will amount to about $124,000 for each entity.

President Bush also has authorized FEMA to manage $3.5 billion proposed in the fiscal 2003 budget as block grants for local governments to aid police, firefighters and emergency response teams that form the so-called first responders.

FEMA is a natural choice for this role because of its history providing funds for natural disasters before, during and after incidents, Miller said.

While the agency will distribute the funds, it will not disseminate threat information because it does not have a system to distribute the warnings in real time, he said.

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