DHS grants $445M to shield critical infrastructure

Federal funds totaling $445 million will be distributed this year to boost security at high-risk seaports, mass transit systems and infrastructure facilities, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday.

The department's Infrastructure Protection Program, comprising five different grant programs, will deliver $201 million to ports; $172 million to urban transit systems; $49 million to buffer zones around chemical plants, electric power plants, dams, stadiums and other facilities; $12 million to intercity bus systems; and $12 million to a trucking industry security program, DHS said in a news release.

Total grant funds for infrastructure protection have risen by $46 million since last year. The money is being targeted to ports and transit systems located in urban areas considered at high risk of terrorist attack and other infrastructure judged at high risk.

The funds are intended to help the facilities enhance security by improving their ability to prevent, detect, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction. It can pay for equipment, training and exercises.

In the past, the port and transit security grants have paid for IT-related equipment such as intrusion detection systems, surveillance cameras, perimeter security systems, access control systems, employee credentialing systems and sensors.

For the transit systems grants, $141 million is allocated to eight of the highest-risk urban areas. The transit system grants are:
  • $61 million, New York
  • $18 million, Washington
  • $15 million Boston
  • $14 million, San Francisco
  • $13 million, Chicago
  • $10 million, Philadelphia
  • $7 million, Los Angeles
  • $3 million, Atlanta
The remainder of the transit grants will be distributed competitively to 29 metropolitan areas, based on evaluation of their risks and the effectiveness of their proposed investments.

The transit grant funding will go to urban rail, bus and ferry systems with an emphasis this year on securing underground and underwater systems; reducing the risks of improvised explosive devices and radiological, chemical and biological weapons; training; exercises; and public awareness.

"We're investing resources where risk is greatest and where the funds will have the most significant impact," Chertoff said. "This year's grants reflect a rigorous, disciplined approach that places risk first, driven by hard analysis from the intelligence community and supported by common sense."

Eight designated ports will receive $120 million under the Port Security Grant Program, while additional seaports may compete for the remaining funds. The seaport grants are:
  • $27 million, New York-New Jersey
  • $17 million, New Orleans
  • $16 million, Houston-Galveston
  • $15 million, Los Angeles-Long Beach
  • $12 million, Puget Sound (Seattle-Tacoma area)
  • $11 million, Delaware Bay (Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., and Southern New Jersey),
  • $11 million, San Francisco Bay
  • $11 million, Sabine-Neches River (Port Arthur-Beaumont, Texas)
Fiscal 2007 priorities include training, exercises, activities to mitigate the risk of improvised explosive devices and employee credentials and access controls.

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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