2013-06-10 National Governors Association

Homeland Security Grant Reform

The Honorable Thomas Carper
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tom Coburn
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Michael McCaul
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Bennie Thompson
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Coburn, Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Thompson:

The nation’s governors thank you for supporting state and local homeland security preparedness programs. Over the past decade, these programs have strengthened our ability to detect and prevent terrorist attacks and respond to catastrophic emergencies. Despite this progress, recent events such as the Boston Marathon bombing and Hurricane Sandy remind us that threats to our communities continue to evolve. To confront today’s dynamic threats, federal homeland security grant programs must be restructured to streamline processes and ensure the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. We urge you to support common-sense reforms and stand ready to work with you to find solutions to our nation’s most pressing homeland security challenges.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, nearly 20 programs were established to help state, territorial, tribal and local governments prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other emergencies. Together, these programs have invested billions in federal and state funds to build and strengthen critical capabilities such as intelligence information-sharing, interoperable emergency communications, bomb detection and hazardous materials response. By serving as the central point of coordination among multiple jurisdictions and functional areas, states have played a key role in ensuring that scarce resources are used effectively to meet identified national priorities while being tailored for regional needs.

Today, while all levels of government are better equipped to handle a range of emergencies, whether man-made or naturally occurring, we face new emerging threats such as cyber-attacks and homegrown violent extremism. To actively address these new risks, state and local public safety officials require greater flexibility than the current homeland security grant framework allows. The current grants structure does not properly incentivize collaboration between local governments and state agencies, which can lead to duplication of effort and restricts the dedication of resources to areas of most critical need. Thoughtful reform of these grant programs can ensure the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars while protecting our citizens and our way of life.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has proposed a new National Preparedness Grant Program (NPGP) to replace the current suite of grants. This proposal addresses many of the challenges states face with the current suite of grant programs. While we have concerns about portions of the NPGP, we applaud FEMA for putting forward a comprehensive proposal and believe it is a good first step toward meaningful reform.

The nation’s governors stand ready to work with you to improve these important grant programs and offer the attached set of reform principles to help guide this effort. We look forward to working with you to continue to strengthen the partnership among all levels of government to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Governor Martin O’Malley
Chair
Health & Homeland Security Committee

Governor Brian Sandoval
Vice Chair
Health & Homeland Security Committee