81st Annual Meeting: June 21-24, 2013 in Las Vegas

HOMELAND SECURITY GRANT PROGRAMS

            WHEREAS, in both its FY 2013 and FY 2014 budget submissions the Administration proposed a major reform and consolidation of the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s 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 United States 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, while FEMA has made changes in its FY 2014 budget proposal in response to some of the concerns raised by The United States Conference of Mayors and others, the proposal still contains several items of concern, including collapsing all of the current programs into a consolidated program which would no longer guarantee the retention of key programs, removal of the 25 percent set-aside for law enforcement terrorism prevention, and expanding the eligible applicants for the portion of the funds which must be passed through to local governments to include port and transit authorities and private organizations; and

            WHEREAS, thus far Congress has rejected the Administration’s proposed changes to the homeland security grant programs,

            NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors urges FEMA and the Administration 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, State Homeland Security Grant Program, 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, FEMA 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:

    • Increase 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.

    • Increase 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.

    • Provide 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.

    • Provide Incentives for Metropolitan Area 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.

            Projected cost: Unknown


RESOLUTION ADOPTED JUNE 2013