Principles for Legislation to Streamline
Homeland Security Grant Programs
Senator Susan Collins, Chairman, Committee on
1: Eliminate duplicative homeland security planning
The current structure requires states and localities to complete
numerous homeland security plans, each with its own set of
questions and benchmarks. This legislation will streamline
the planning process and provide a clear set of goals. This
process will also recognize the importance of retaining the
basic functions of important emergency planning programs,
such as the Emergency Management Performance Grant.
2: Allow flexibility in the use of the funds:
Existing grant programs limit the Department of Homeland Security’s
ability to help states and localities disburse homeland security
funds. This legislation will allow states, localities, and
first responders to decide how to spend federal dollars to
meet their particular homeland security needs, according to
their state plans.
3: Make it easier to apply for grants:
In contrast to the complex web of homeland security programs,
this legislation will move toward one stop shopping within
the Department for state and local officials to access homeland
security dollars in a direct and timely fashion. A single
source within the Department will provide states, communities
and first responders with information on relevant grant programs
both inside and outside the department.
4: Coordinate the multiplicity of grant programs
that provide homeland security funds for planning, preparedness,
Federal programs within the Department of Homeland Security
and outside the new Department provide much needed support
to ensure a basic level of equipment and training among first
responders, yet often lack coordination. For example, communities
received funding for interoperable equipment through five
different Federal programs, including the FIRE Act, COPS,
HHS’s bio-terrorism program, FEMA’s Emergency
Management Performance Account, and ODP’s state homeland
security grant program. Despite the goal of these grants -
to purchase interoperable equipment - Federal agencies did
little to coordinate the grant process. This legislation will
coordinate these programs to avoid duplication, ensure that
a broad spectrum of needs are being met, and maximize the
return on the taxpayers’ dollar.
5: Promote a community-based approach to homeland
This legislation will make sure that state and local government
officials and first responders are included in the homeland
security planning process and can access homeland security
dollars and equipment in an efficient manner.
6: Match funds with needs:
The 187-page Homeland Security Act includes but a single paragraph
on grant programs for first responders. As a result, the Department
of Homeland Security is allocating billions of dollars with
little guidance from Congress as to how such decisions should
be made. This legislation will match homeland security funding
with a state’s need, while ensuring that each state
receives a reasonable share of the funds.
7: Don’t reinvent the wheel:
This legislation will also recognize the importance of building
on existing successful programs, such as the FIRE Act.