House subcommittee adds to DHS purse

The House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee yesterday approved a six percent increase for the department in fiscal 2009, which is $2.3 billion more than the White House requested, according to its chairman, Rep. David Price (D-N.C.).

Discretionary spending totals $39.9 billion in the bill, including the requested amounts for major programs such as the SBInet border surveillance system and the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program. The Coast Guard's Deepwater asset modernization program would get $933 million, about $57 million less than requested.

The committee exceeded President Bush's recommendations for grants to states and localities for emergency preparedness, Price said in a news release. The bill provides:
  • $950 million for state homeland security grants, the same as last year, and $750 million above the requested level.
  • $850 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants, $30 million above last year and $25 million more than requested.
  • $800 million for fire grants, $50 million more than last year and $500 million more than requested.
  • $400 million for transit security grants, the same as last year and $225 million more than requested.
  • $400 million for port security grants, the same as last year and $190 million above the president's budget.
  • $315 million for emergency management performance grants, $15 million more than last year and a $115 million more than requested.
  • $50 million for Real ID grants.
  • $50 million for interoperable communications grants.
  • $35 million for emergency operations centers.

Homeland security grants are a major source of information technology contracting activity at state and local agencies. Since 2003, when the department opened, the grants have been used for information sharing, emergency communications, surveillance, and intelligence fusion centers.

The grants also have been used for situational awareness software, common operating pictures, cybersecurity, identity management, alert and warning systems, and command and control systems.

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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