Bonus Features from July 18 Domestic Preparedness Grants Panel

July 19, 2011 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

In yesterday’s post, we shared some of the dominant themes from an executive briefing on “The Future of Grants in Domestic Preparedness” at the National Press Club, which was hosted by DomesticPreparedness.com and sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton. But with too many interesting insights from the panelists (two feds, a state official, and a Hill committee staffer) to jam into a single blog post, we thought it was worth a follow-up post with “bonus features” from the event.

Robert Glenn, executive director and homeland security advisor, Ohio Homeland Security Division, Ohio Department of Public Health,Robert Glenn, executive director and homeland security advisor, Ohio Homeland Security Division, Ohio Department of Public Health, noted the ongoing debates about whether the federal government or state and local governments should be responsible for domestic preparedness. Referencing the corresponding question of how preparedness should be funded, Glenn predicted that “states will truly have to pay the price for domestic security.”

Glenn also stated that “as funding decreases, so does the incentive to have a seat at the table” and maintained that although states want accountability for their actions, they also need the flexibility to spend as needed, for example, through approaches that emphasize regionalism and interdependency.

Dr. Bernadette McGuire-Rivera, associate administrator, NTIA, Department of CommerceDr. Bernadette McGuire-Rivera, associate administrator, NTIA, Department of Commerce, describes increased grantee reporting requirements as “one of the more troubling things” that constitutes one of her agency’s “biggest challenges.” With limited resources for monitoring, the agency struggles to balance its administrative responsibilities with technical assistance and other forms of grantee support.

McGuire-Rivera also called for greater coordination on the part of various federal agencies, state and local governments, trade associations and affiliated professional groups, noting that “some days it…works; other days it’s like dealing with your in-laws – everybody has a different set of ideas and rules about how things should happen.”

Jason Barnosky, professional staff member, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs CommitteeJason Barnosky, professional staff member, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressed pessimism about the funding prospects for domestic preparedness programs.  Saying  “next year’s not looking that great,” Barnosky suggested that “the best case scenario would be to see the same levels as this year.”

Barnosky urged state and local government preparedness grant recipients to partner with FEMA to “tell their stories well,” highlighting the effectiveness of their grant-funded projects by focusing on  “here’s what we’ve done, what we’ve bought, here’s how it’s been successful.”

Elizabeth M. Harman, assistant administrator of Grant Programs Directorate, FEMAElizabeth M. Harman, assistant administrator of Grant Programs Directorate, FEMA, spoke about the challenges of reduced funding for such preparedness programs as the Urban Areas Security Initiative.  She stressed the need to focus on the highest-risk areas and to  modify the existing risk formula to better account for vulnerabilities.

“There is risk everywhere. We have homegrown terror coming up,” Harman stated, noting that “the agency is figuring out how to incorporate that into the formulas.”

In terms of the impact of reduced funding on recipients, Harman vowed that the agency would “do [its] best to coordinate grant guidance and streamline reporting.”

(All photos: Adrianne Fielding)

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