May 15, 2003


Draft Summary of Senator Collinsí Homeland Security Grant Coordination and Simplification Act of 2003


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. Despite having overlapping goals, these federal programs lack the very coordination that we ask of our states and communities. For example, communities can access funding for interoperable communications equipment through six different federal programs, including the FIRE Act, COPS, two Department of Health and Human Servicesí bio-terrorism grant programs, FEMAís Emergency Management Performance Account, and ODPís state homeland security grant program. Despite the unified goals of these grants - to purchase interoperable equipment - federal agencies are under no requirement to coordinate the grant process.

Compounding the problem, within the maze of federal programs there is a mountain of paperwork. State and local officials are forced to complete separate emergency plans for different federal agencies and redundant application forms for the fragmented grant programs. Many states have been forced to complete more than five separate homeland security plans. While the information requested by each homeland security plan is similar, states and communities are often forced to reinvent the wheel from one emergency plan to the next.

The Homeland Security Grant Coordination and Simplification Act of 2003:

This legislation will streamline and strengthen the homeland security grant process by establishing a Federal Interagency Committee that will be charged with eliminating duplication in planning requirements, simplifying the application process, helping states and localities promote interoperability of their equipment, and coordinating risk and vulnerability assessments.