Antiterrorism Program Cuts Funding for More Than 30 U.S. Cities

More than 30 U.S. cities have been informed by the Homeland Security Department that they will not receive terrorism preparedness funding under one top grant program in this budget year due to budget constraints, the Associated Press reported on Friday (see GSN, April 13).

Funding for the Urban Areas Security Initiative was trimmed by some $170 million for fiscal 2011 under a federal compromise budget through September 30. The program is aimed at protecting high-risk U.S. urban centers from a potential terrorist assault, with monies to be spent on building law enforcement and antiterrorism capacities.

Thirty-one cities, including Washington, New York and Boston, will still be awarded more than $662 million in program funding in the present fiscal year.

Some of the cities that will lose out on program funding include Providence, R.I., Hartford, Conn., Bridgeport, Conn. and three Texas cities -- Austin, El Paso and San Antonio. Those Texas population centers were awarded roughly $14.5 million from the funding initiative in fiscal 2010.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) said his state would receive roughly 50 percent of the DHS funding it has seen in years past (Associated Press I/Boston Globe, May 20).

Officials from impacted areas reacted with dismay to the funding news, AP reported.

"We're still working to fully understand why central Ohio was excluded from the funding and the impact today's announcement will have on our homeland-security efforts," Franklin County Board of Commissioners spokeswoman Hanna Greer said. "We'll be working with our congressional representatives and reaching out to the administration to restore some level of funding."

In Ohio, Columbus and Toledo were among those cities not to receive any Urban Areas Security Initiative funding this year while Cincinnati and Cleveland saw their respective program allocations trimmed to $3.5 million and $3.6 million.

Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), who leads the House Homeland Security Committee, lauded Homeland Security's decision to maintain funding amounts for the New York City metropolitan area -- some $151.5 million. The actions demonstrates that the department understands "that New York and Long Island remain the top target of al-Qaeda," he said (Alicia Caldwell, Associated Press II/Columbus Dispatch, May 20).

Roughly $540 million of the Urban Areas Security Initiative funding is to be directed toward the 11 cities estimated to be at greatest risk for a terrorist attack. Another 20 cities would collect the remaining money, according to a Homeland Security release.

Total DHS fiscal 2011 grant spending is almost 25 percent lower than available funding in the previous budget. The department announced on Thursday it would allocate $2.1 billion across 12 different initiatives to cities, states, tribal governments and other recipients to help build preparedness for a terrorist assault or other crisis, according to a DHS release.

"In today's tight fiscal environment, we are maximizing limited grant dollars by setting clear priorities and focusing on the areas that face the greatest risk," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in provided comments.

The State Homeland Security Program -- designed to aid states in putting in place and augmenting their security plans -- is to receive more than $526 million in fiscal 2011.

The Metropolitan Medical Response System Program is to receive about $34 million to support regional public health abilities to respond to a high casualty attack, while the Citizen Crops Program will distribute in excess of $9 million on community preparedness and related activities.

The Port Security Grant Program has about $235 million to distribute to seaports, while the Transit Security Grant Program and the Freight Rail Security Grant Program respectively were assigned in excess of $200 million and about $10 million (U.S. Homeland Security Department release, May 19).

May 20, 2011
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More than 30 U.S. cities have been informed by the Homeland Security Department that they will not receive terrorism preparedness funding under one top grant program in this budget year due to budget constraints, the Associated Press reported on Friday (see GSN, April 13).