80th Annual Meeting

WHEREAS, in its FY 2013 budget submission the Administration proposed a major reform and consolidation of homeland security grant programs which would replace the current programs with a new National Preparedness Grant Program; and

WHEREAS, The United States Conference of Mayors has a strong body of policy which supports the current homeland security grant programs; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and other organizations which represent local governments, first responders, and emergency managers have registered serious concerns with the proposal to convert the current suite of homeland security grant programs into state-administered block and competitive grant programs in which funding decisions are based on state and multi-state threat assessments; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Homeland Security is currently implementing the changes Congress made in the FY 2012 appropriations bill – changes which give the Department greater flexibility to focus grant programs on what it considers to be the highest priorities, while protecting program funding to the highest risk urban areas and transportation infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, the Secretary of Homeland Security has reached out to mayors through the U.S. Conference of Mayors and invited the organization to work with the Department to craft improvements to the nation’s homeland security programs which respond to the preparedness and response needs of cities; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the Department of Homeland Security first to give the program changes currently being implemented at least a year to play out and evaluate them before moving ahead with the significant changes proposed in the National Preparedness Grant Program; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department take advantage of the time this approach provides to work with the Conference of Mayors and other national organizations as well as Congress to develop program reforms which incorporate the successful elements of past and current programs and identify new approaches which can have broad support; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that any reform proposals protect certain key programs, including the Urban Area Security Initiative and port and transportation security grants, which provide targeted funding to local areas and critical infrastructure considered to be at the highest risk; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that as it works with Congress and stakeholders, the Department use the following set of core principles developed by the Conference and other national organizations which represent local governments, first responders, and emergency managers to guide program reform:

  • Increased Transparency – It must be clear and understandable to the federal government and the public how the states are distributing funds, why they are making these decisions, and where the funds are going.

  • Greater Local Involvement – Local government officials, including emergency managers and emergency response officials, know best the threats and vulnerabilities in their areas. The Threat Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (THIRA) process must include the input of local elected and emergency response officials, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) must be able to audit states by comparing local risk assessments to the state level THIRA.  Further, local governments should have the opportunity to challenge a state THIRA that inadequately reflects their needs or input.

  • Flexibility with Accountability – Any changes to the existing federal grant programs should allow federal funding to meet individual local needs, and preparedness gaps as identified at the local level. Effective but sometimes less politically popular programs, like mitigation, must still receive funding.

  • Protect Local Funding – Since event impact and response are primarily local in nature, grant funding should support primarily local prevention and preparedness efforts, as is the case under the current program structure. It is important that the vast majority of federal homeland security grants continue to fund local prevention and response activities, including local emergency managers and first responders, and activities that support their preparedness efforts.

  • Sustain Terrorism Prevention - The current emphasis on supporting law enforcement’s terrorism prevention activities must be maintained. The federal grant funds should not be used to support larger state bureaucracies at the expense of operational counter terrorism preparedness, threat analysis, and information sharing activities.

  • Incentives for Innate Regionalization – FEMA’s proposal focuses on states and multi-state regions (similar to the FEMA regions). The homeland security grants must also support preparedness in metropolitan intra-state and inter-state regions.