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Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

DHS invests $1.6B for preparedness grant programs for state, local aid

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Across a series of grant programs, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week that it will disperse $1.6 billion this fiscal year in support of state and local officials seeking to plan for, prevent, halt and respond to terrorism and other issues.

Supplementing $405.1 million in funding already announced last month for the Emergency Management Performance Grant Program, these funds prioritize support for law enforcement at all levels. While DHS grant programs have required at least a quarter of funds to be given to Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Activities since 2007, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has for the first time authorized raising the statutory minimum to 30 percent, increasing law enforcement support by about $51.5 million over 2021 levels.

“Through these efforts, the Department is supporting law enforcement’s ability to understand, recognize, prepare for, prevent, and respond to pre-operational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity,” Mayorkas said.

Evolution of response is something Mayorkas emphasized with this year’s funding, something he says will keep the nation on a better footing against equally evolving threats. Exemplifying this concept was the creation of two new national priority areas for these grants: community preparedness and election security. This brings DHS’ focus to six areas, including cybersecurity, soft targets/crowded places, intelligence/information sharing, and domestic violent extremism. Grant recipients will have to spread at least 30 percent of their rewards across these six priorities, with certain sub-milestones. Minimum spending will be required for all areas except cybersecurity and election security. 

“After extensive consultation with grantees leading up to this announcement, DHS is focused on balancing the need to invest in high priority areas while giving jurisdictions the flexibility to make prioritization decisions based on their own assessments of their needs,” Mayorkas said.

A breakdown of funding includes: 

  • Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP): State Homeland Security Program – $415 million to implement new state homeland security strategies
  • HSGP: Urban Area Security Initiative – $615 million to improve regional preparedness across 36 high-threat, high-density areas
  • Intercity Passenger Rail protection – $10 million to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and improve Amtrak’s resilience
  • Emergency Operations Center Grant Program – $49 million for construction, renovations, and enhancements of emergency operations centers
  • HSGP: Operation Stonegarden – $90 million to increase cooperation/coordination among various law enforcement agencies
  • Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program – $15 million to aid Tribal nation preparedness against terrorism and other risks
  • Nonprofit Security Grant Program – $250 million to help harden nonprofits against terrorist attacks
  • Port Security Grant Program – $100 million to support critical port infrastructure against terrorism and improve overall security risk management
  • Transit Security Grant Program – $9 million for owners and operators of public transit systems to help infrastructure and increase resilience 
  • Intercity Bus Security Grant Program – $2 million for intercity bus systems to protect infrastructure and increase resilience