Wednesday, February 3, 2010

An Analysis of the Fiscal Year 2011 Homeland Security Grants

On Monday, the Obama Administration released its proposed 3.8 trillion FY 2011 budget of which roughly $4 billion is slated for state and local homeland security grants and programs. What is obvious from the start is how little the Administration proposes to cut from these state and local programs. Many expected deep cuts given the huge $1.6 trillion federal deficit projected for FY 2011. The Administration proposes to cut $164 million from last year’s total of $4.165 billion leaving just over $4 billion for FY 2011.

Despite the limited overall cuts, there are several programs that are slated for termination including, Citizen Corps, Metropolitan Medical Response System, Interoperable Emergency Communications Grants and Real ID grants. However, virtually all of the activities funded by these grants are eligible under other grant programs that are set to receive an increase in funding such as the Urban Areas Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Program.

At $1.1 billion, the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) is set to receive a $213 million plus-up from last year, but before anyone gets too exited read the fine print. $200 million of the new UASI funding is set for “security resulting from terror-related trials.” That turns out to be roughly the same number the NYPD has said it will cost to secure one year of the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial in lower Manhattan. However, as of now, it seems highly unlikely such a trial will occur in New York City if it occurs in the U.S. at all. What happens to that $200 million if no trials or less costly trials occur will have to be worked out in the budget process. This is the first time in the UASI program’s history that an earmark for special event security has been proposed as part of its budget.

While Operation Stonegarden, the program designed to fund state and local border security operations in coordination with the U.S. Border Patrol, is set to be zeroed out from its $60 million last year, in truth it is simply moved into the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) at a rate of $50 million. The entire SHSP is set to receive just over $1 billion.

Emergency Management Performance Grants see an increase of $5 million over last year with a total request of $345 million, while the Emergency Operations Center program is set for zero funding in FY 2011. The Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program is proposed at $35 million, the same as last year, despite many predicting it would be zeroed out. The Port Security Grant Program and Transit Security Grant Program are each slated to receive $300 million with the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program taking a $200 million haircut from last year at $610 million for FY 2011.

It should be noted that these numbers are simply the opening salvo in a long and sometimes twisted dance between the executive and legislative branches of government. The FY 2011 budget won’t be passed before October 1, 2010 and a lot can change between now and then in an election year. If the past is any indication, Congress will likely restore some, if not all, of the programs the Administration slated for termination, e.g., Citizen Corps. However, given the fiscal crisis at the federal level, Congress might actually cut even deeper into these programs depending on the direction the political winds are blowing come budget voting time. Either way, the Administration’s proposal is where we start.

Finally, the following is a link to the FY 2011 DHS Congressional Budget Justifications submitted by the Administration and released on Monday. A chart listing the state and local programs is on page 2,941.

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