Sen. Collins: Streamline the Homeland Security Grant Process For First Responders

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today commended Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) for holding hearings that focused on the need to streamline the homeland security grant process for states, communities and first responders.

“I’m looking forward to working with Representative Cox on legislation to address our homeland security grant process,” said Collins, whose committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security. “The current system is too cumbersome and takes time away from what our first responders want to be doing-protecting our communities.”

Earlier this year, Collins introduced the Homeland Security Grant Enhancement Act of 2003 (S. 1245), which 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.

Collins’ measure, a groundbreaking effort toward improving the federal government’s ability to respond to the nation’s critical security needs, was unanimously approved by the Governmental Affairs Committee on June 17.

“This legislation would enable our first responders to more easily access grants to pay for the tools and training that make our communities safer,” said Collins. “It does so by promoting the same kind of coordination among federal agencies that we require from our states and communities, and by requiring those agencies to facilitate-not frustrate-the funding of first responder needs.”