Homeland Security Grants: The Heritage Foundation's Research

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Homeland Security Grants: The Heritage Foundation's Research

May 26, 2005 9 min read
The Heritage Foundation

The First Responder Act: Congress Needs to Act

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Alane Kochems

The current system of state and local grants is ineffective and wasteful. It often gives a disproportionate amount of money to rural areas without more careful consideration of which areas might be at a higher risk for a terrorist attack. Additionally, states are not forced to allocate funds based on risk or strategic need, so many do not. H.R. 1544, the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act of 2005, would correct this ineffective system. The bill would award funding to states based on need, while still retaining a minimum amount for all states. It also requires states to allocate funds based on population and that such money must be distributed and spent in a timely fashion.


The Specter of Pork Barrel Homeland Security

By Keith Miller and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Homeland Security appropriators may start allowing earmarks in funding bills for the first time. Earmarks would divert funding from important national security priorities to special interests of legislators. DHS already suffers from funding woes; port security grant projects are being questioned in terms of their merit and rural areas receive a disproportionate amount of funding. Congress should make homeland security funding allocations based on risk and need alone, instead of wasting money on special regional interests.


Homeland Security Dollars and Sense #3: Checkbook Security Is Not Enough

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Claims that homeland security funds are being abused and that DHS is inept at managing grants appear to be overblown. However, the department still needs to improve its system of ensuring that the greatest priorities receive the most funding. The Homeland Security Directive 8 (HSPD-8) would create a system of national priorities and allocate funds based upon those issues deemed most important. Congress should also resist pressure to add earmarks to homeland security bills, increase the total amount of funding for DHS, add grant programs for special interests, or increase the minimum amount of money each state receives.


Border Security: Setting the Right Federal Priorities

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The government should not throw money at the problem of border security through federal grants. Instead, it should work to train state and local law enforcement to effectively protect America's borders and enforce immigration laws.


The FY 2006 Budget Request for Homeland Security: A Congressional Guide for Making America Safer

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The highest priority for homeland security spending must be to create a national preparedness system, instead of just supplementing the needs of state and local governments. The government cannot simply give money to state and local governments. This approach will not build a national system and the costs of equipping each state with sufficient resources is prohibitive. The FY 2006 budget makes the smart move of reducing grants by about 6% and restructuring another $2.6 billion of grants. Restraining the amount of homeland security grant funding is a good idea because the government has not yet implemented the Homeland Security Directive 8 (HSPD-8), which would improve grant allocation. Additionally, no earmarks should be made for homeland security grants and separate Fire Grants should be eliminated.


An Agenda for Increasing State and Local Government Efforts to Combat Terrorism

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., Paul Rosenzweig, and Alane Kochems

The federal government currently spends too much funding on response efforts to terrorism and should instead focus on creating a truly national prevention system. The government should also direct state and local grants more towards prevention. Currently, states handle disburse responder grants very differently. Federal assistance to states should not be to help each state better prepare to respond to a terrorist attack; efforts should focus on integrating each state into a national prevention and security network.


Statement of Dr. James Jay Carafano Before the House Budget Committee

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The highest priority for homeland security spending should be the creation of a national preparedness system. The federal government has the responsibility to assist state and local governments in providing homeland security, but it cannot supply resources for all of their needs. The funding that state and local governments do get should be directed towards integrating themselves into a national system of preparedness, counterterrorism, and response efforts. Federal assistance to states should focus on medical surveillance, detection, identification, and communication so that problems can be quickly identified and the federal government can respond promptly. Finally, homeland security funding bills should not be allowed to contain earmarks.


Homeland Security Dollars and Sense #2: Misplaced Maritime Priorities

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The Administration has proposed limiting port grants in 2005 to $50 million, while owners and operators of ports around the country have been demanding an increase in funding. The government is right to resist pressure to increase port grants. The U.S. port infrastructure is much too vast for the federal government to provide resources for its entirety. Instead, Congress should focus its funding on the Coast Guard, which plays a significant role in counterterrorism, border control, and intelligence efforts. Coast Guard modernization should be fully funded before any money is allocated for port grants.


Before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

DHS has divided the responsibilities of preparedness, protection, and response among different offices within the department in a very disorganized fashion. DHS needs to combine these offices under an Undersecretary for Protection and Preparedness. This restructuring would consolidate grant-making authority and make the process more efficient.


Organizing for Victory: Proposals for Building a Regional Homeland Security Structure

By Edwin Meese III, James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., and Richard Weitz, Ph.D.

The DHS is preparing to create a new regional structure to more effectively govern how the department interacts with the state and local levels. Congress should give regional offices discretion over some grant money to promote homeland security coordination between regions.


Top Homeland Security Priorities for the Next Four Years

By James Jay Carafano

Federal funding should focus on creating a national structure to make all Americans safer. The Administration should fully implement HSPD-8 to ensure efficient and effective allocation of grants. Congress should mandate a system to ensure that funds are distributed based on needs, performance, and degree of readiness. Giveaway grant programs, such as Fire Grants, should be ceased.


Homeland Security Needs Responsible Congressional Oversight

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Congress needs to create a permanent oversight committee for the DHS. The current system of shared oversight between committees has caused confusion and inefficiency. A good example of this is the fate of the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act, which was designed to bring focus and discipline to the process of providing grants to state and local governments. Different committees felt compelled to offer different versions of the bill, leaving the House Rules Committee to work out the details.


An Appropriator's Guide to Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

The federal government has the responsibility to assist state and local governments in counterterrorism efforts, but it cannot equip every state with all the resources it needs to combat terrorism. Instead, funding should focus on efforts to integrate all parts of the country into a national security network. The government should award grants to efforts that enhance communications and information sharing, joint planning, leader and staff training, and mutual-support programs. Congress should eliminate funding to programs like Fire Grants, which have a limited impact on individual communities. The Administration should reduce the amount of funding it gives in port grants. Port infrastructure in the U.S. is so extensive that providing funding for it may not be wise. Grant money is most effective when it is used to encourage private-public partnerships.


Homeland Security Dollars and Sense #1: Current Spending Formulas Waste Aid to States

By James Jay Carafano

The current formulas for the grants process result in a little bit of money allotted to a large amount of things. Each state is guaranteed .75 percent of available funds, resulting in only 60 percent left for discretionary allocations. Additionally, each state should not receive the same amount of funding, since not all states face the same risk. States are not told how to disburse their grant money, and so some choose unwisely. For example, California distributes $5,000 to each county, an amount too small to be of any use.


Homeland Security Grant Bill Needs Revision But Is a Step in the Right Direction

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Public safety is a responsibility that should be shared by federal, state, and local governments. Federal grants should be used as incentives for the effective integration of resources from all levels of government into a truly national safety network. The House Select Committee on Homeland Security is trying to enforce this principle and otherwise improve grant spending in the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act. The act has many important features, such as the requirement that grant applications be ranked by their contribution to national security and specific penalties, incentives, and restrictions on fund usage. However, other aspects of the bill must be modified or added to ensure proper grant usage. The Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services need to harmonize their grant processes so that states and local governments do not have to fill out multiple applications. Oversight of the grant process should be given to the Homeland Security Council and an independent commission should be established to evaluate the effectiveness of the grant program.


Harmonizing House and Senate Appropriations for Homeland Security

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Federal spending has increased 240 percent since September 11. Both the House and the Senate are working to better control and allocate these funds for the fiscal year 2004. The new bill should increase spending on Coast Guard modernization, consolidate funding for state and local governments and target critical security needs first.


Fixing the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

On June 24, 2003 the House passed the first homeland security appropriations bill. Congress needs to consolidate grant application processes, to make it more efficient for states and local governments to apply for them.


Adding Flexibility and Purpose to Domestic Preparedness Grant Programs

By Michael Scardaville

Congress and the DHS need to take some important steps in maximizing the effectiveness of federal grants to state and local governments. Grant money should be allocated to the states through a formula that takes into account risk, vulnerability, population, and other important factors.


Emphasize How, Not How Much, in Domestic Preparedness Spending

by Michael Scardaville

Congress's top priority in supporting first responders should be reforming and consolidating existing grants programs to provide the maximum benefit at the least cost. Congress must consolidate existing programs into a flexible grant regime designed to meet the unique needs of the various states while maintaining some uniformity in the system. Only after such reform is enacted should Congress authorize any increase in grant funds.


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