DHS grants to bolster security on the home front

Eligible jurisdictions will share $1.7B outlay

Four cities have been dropped and three others added to the Homeland Security Department's list of high-risk urban areas eligible for federal anti-terrorism dollars this year.

The department released its fiscal 2007 grant guidance today totaling $1.7 billion for state and local counterterrorism efforts. The amount is about $4 million less than last year's allocation.

The largest program, the Urban Area Security Initiative, will distribute $747 million this year, up from $711 million last year. It will direct funding to as many as 45 urban areas for antiterrorism equipment, planning and training.

The urban areas at greatest risk?San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington and New York?will compete for $411 million based on analysis of the risks they face and the effectiveness of their proposed investments, the department said. A second tier of 39 cities will compete for $336 million.

Two of the new cities, El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Ariz., are on the U.S.-Mexico border. The third city, Norfolk, Va. is home to a major East Coast port.

Cities that received DHS urban grants in the past but are no longer eligible are inland metropolitan areas: Baton Rouge, La.; Louisville, Ky.; Omaha, Neb.; and Toledo, Ohio.

The grants also include the State Homeland Security Grant Program, which will send $509 million to the states and territories for counterrorism activities. The Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, with $364 million, will deliver funding to the states for law enforcement and public safety.

The Metropolitan Medical Response System delivers $32 million in funding to 124 cities; Citizen Corps' $14 million is passed out to all the states and territories.

Grant funding priorities for the year include reducing risks from improvised explosive devices and radiological, chemical and biological weapons, the news release states. The funding also gives high priority to interoperable communications, information sharing and citizen preparedness.

Some of the funding will be based on risk assessments and effectiveness scores. The risk assessment will look at factors that include intelligence assessments, population size and density, economic impacts, and proximity to nationally critical infrastructure such as international borders. In addition, more than 100 state and local experts from law enforcement, emergency management and homeland security will form peer review panels to assess this year's grant applications, DHS said.

"The funds will be distributed to reduce risk across the United States, not just in a handful of places. But, let me be clear that the communities facing the highest risk will receive the majority of the funds," Secretary Michael Chertoff said in the release.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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