Senator Collins Introduces Bill to Streamline Federal Homeland Security Grant Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Monday, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Homeland Security Department, introduced legislation that takes a first step toward streamlining the grant process. Collins’ bill, S. 796, would move the grant issuing Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) from the Border and Transportation Security Directorate to the Office for State and Local Government Coordination, which reports directly to Secretary Tom Ridge.

“By elevating ODP’s stature, I hope to begin the process of establishing a centralized location to help support our first responders,” Collins said. “This bill will help ensure that homeland security funds are distributed in a more coordinated and streamlined fashion while taking into consideration the needs of states and local first responders.”

The Homeland Security Act tasks ODP with “directing and supervising terrorism preparedness grant programs of the federal government … for all emergency response providers.”

Yet, despite this broad authority, ODP was placed within the department’s Border and Transportation Security Directorate, which has a narrower focus and is distinct from, for example, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.

“My bill would place ODP where it belonged in the first place — in Secretary Ridge’s Office,” Collins said.