DHS revises grant guidance for fiscal 2009

The Homeland Security Department on Wednesday announced guidance for more than $3 billion in fiscal 2009 homeland security grants for state and local authorities to fund programs that include information technology, information-sharing initiatives and protecting critical infrastructure.

The money comes from the roughly $3.1 billion Congress provided for state and local programs in DHS' fiscal 2009 budget passed in September. Of that amount, more than $1.7 billion dollars will be available to fund projects under the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), in line with the fiscal 2008 guidance.

About $861 million of the HSGP grant money will be administered through the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) which provides funds to bolster state and local preparedness capabilities, a similar amount to fiscal 2008. Almost $800 million of HSGP money will be administered through the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) that provides funds to boost capabilities in high-threat, high-density urban areas across the country, a slight increase from last year.

DHS was required by Congress to release the guidance by today, several months earlier than it released during the fiscal 2008 cycle. Including the fiscal 2009 grants, the government will have provided more than $27 billion in homeland security funding to state and local authorities since 2002, according to DHS.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the department's priorities for the grants were the same as last year. Those priorities include planning and training for all hazards protection, as well as information sharing programs such as fusion centers through which state, local and federal authorities share homeland security- related information.

The grant guidance differs from last year's because it incorporates requirements from a recent law that remove some restrictions on how grant money that state and local authorities can use to pay for personnel for terrorism-prevention activities such as fusion centers. In addition, for the first time DHS announced allocations targets for the SHSP and UASI programs to help state and local authorities tailor their grant applications.

"So we have made a few changes, but what we've really done is provided stability and continuity which is probably the number one request I've heard from state and local officials during the four years I've been involved in dealing with the grant process," said Chertoff.

Chertoff said state and local governments will likely face increased budget pressures over the coming years, but cautioned against losing sight of security risks in light of the current financial crisis.

Ben Bain writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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