Department of Homeland Security Adopts Chairman Collins’ Organizational Recommendations

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today said she was pleased that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering implementing organizational and grant program changes similar to those outlined in legislation (S. 1245) she introduced earlier this year.

During a speech today, DHS Secretary Tom Ridge said he would be notifying Congress shortly about the details of the Department’s plan to centralize homeland security grant programs within a single office. This transfer would place all of the federal government’s major terrorism preparedness grants in one location for state and local partners.

“I’m pleased that DHS is considering the common-sense changes outlined in my bill. I look forward to working with Secretary Ridge to protect successful programs such as the FIRE Act and to promote administrative simplification within the agency,” said Collins.

Collins’ legislation, the Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act, which was approved unanimously by her committee in June, would authorize a program to provide billions of dollars in assistance to state and local governments and first responders. The bill would create a “one-stop” point of access to grant funding, technical assistance, threat assessments and information on best practices and equipment. It also would allow more flexibility in the use of federal dollars to address homeland security needs and provide first responders with funding in a more coordinated and timely manner. In addition, the bill would eliminate duplication in homeland security planning requirements, simplify the grant application process, and promote equipment interoperability. Ridge outlined similar changes for his agency in his speech today.

“Secretary Ridge recognizes the need to streamline the homeland security grant process, making it easier for first responders to obtain the help they need,” said Collins. “The current system is too cumbersome and takes time away from what our first responders want to be doing—protecting our communities.”

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