DHS: Grant money flows first from state administrations

State administrative agencies are the key to tracking state and local homeland security opportunities, a Homeland Security Department official said today.

A state's administrative agency is one of the first places contractors should look, because much of the DHS' grant money flows through these agencies, said Mark Dozier, branch chief for the eastern division with the State and Local Operations Directorate in DHS' Office of Domestic Preparedness. Dozier spoke this morning at a grant seminar sponsored by market research firm Input Inc., Reston, Va. Private industry should get detailed information from these agencies, he said.

Contractors should work with the state "because it is their money," Dozier said. Each state or territory has appointed a contact to manage preparedness grants. These offices, in turn, award subgrants to local governments. They also designate a representative to administer local programs inside the state.

To receive federal funds each year, states must submit a homeland security strategy to DHS. A handful of states are ineligible to receive federal funds because their strategies have not yet been approved, Dozier said.

The Office of Domestic Preparedness will raise homeland security funding to state and local governments from $3.2 billion in 2004 to $4.5 billion in 2005, Dozier said.

The bulk of the grant funding is disbursed as block or formula grants as opposed to discretionary grants, Dozier said. Formula grants are distributed by the federal government based on population or other data, whereas block grants are distributed to fund specific programs.

Congress is expected to shift the balance of funding away from the State Homeland Security Grant Programs to the Urban Area Security Initiatives in 2005, Dozier said. This is being done to get funding to high-threat areas more quickly.

Dozier said there are plenty of funds available to the nation's first responders. In addition to police, fire and emergency medical personnel, first responders now include other areas, such as hazardous materials, emergency management and public health.

As of fiscal 2004, state and local grant recipients now may purchase maintenance agreements for equipment and services they buy with federal funds, Dozier said.

States vary in the methods they use to conduct homeland security assessments and develop their strategies, he said. Some states are organized by regions, others are organized by counties.

Dozier said the domestic preparedness program is successful "because we don't do a cookie-cutter approach. We let states go in the direction they want to go," he said.

More information is available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/state.htm.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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