WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Department on Homeland Security, outlined legislation she plans to introduce in the coming weeks to streamline and strengthen the federal government’s homeland security grant programs for states, localities and first responders.
“The current structure of homeland security programs is not doing the job,” Collins said at a committee hearing held earlier today to examine the federal government’s homeland security grant programs. “The needs of our states and their first responders are as diverse as the people who live there. My legislation will provide resources to our first responders so they can focus on what they do best, protect our communities.”
Collins’ legislation will be based on the following principles:· Eliminating duplicative homeland security planning requirements;
· Allowing flexibility in the use of funds;
· Making it easier to apply for the grants;
· Coordinating the multiplicity of grant programs that provide funds for homeland security planning, preparedness, and response;
· Promoting a community-based approach to homeland security funding;
· Matching funds with needs.
Senator Collins outlined this legislation as the committee completed its second in a series of hearings to examine how the federal government can more efficiently and effectively provide first responders with the assistance they need. At today’s hearing, Secretary Tom Ridge discussed the ongoing challenges involved with providing assistance to states, localities and first responders. At the committee’s initial hearing on April 9, 2003, first responders testified about their experiences with federal homeland security grant programs. State and local officials will present a different perspective at the next hearing scheduled for May 15, 2003. Thereafter, Senator Collins plans on introducing legislation to streamline and enhance federal homeland security grant programs.