February 2, 2008
DHS announces increased port security grant funding
Announcing the release of DHS guidance for 14 different grant programs for the fiscal year 2008, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff noted that "port security grant funding this year is up $76 million, over last year, for a total of almost $390 million"with the top tier ports being Delaware Bay, Houston-Galveston, Los Angeles-Long Beach, New Orleans, New York-New Jersey, Puget Sound, and San Francisco.
Secretary Chertoffl said that it is anticipated that in FY 2008 these Group I ports will receive the following amounts: San Francisco Bay will go up from $14 million to $25.5 million; Los Angeles-Long Beach will have a 135 percent increase, more than doubling from $15.4 million to $26.3 million; Delaware Bay will be up 44 percent-- $13.2 million to $19.1 million; New Orleans will go up again, from $12.7 million to $29.4 million; New York will increase from $27.3 million to $43.3 million; Houston-Galveston will double from $15.1 million to almost $31 million this year; Puget Sound will increase from $17.3 million to $26 million.
In addition to these Tier I, or Group I, locations, there are 41 Group II port areas that will be eligible for $134 million in funding.
According to the American Association of Port Authorities, the increased funding "is being met with cheers by ports and other maritime entities throughout the United States."
"This is great news," said Kurt Nagle, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) president and CEO. "AAPA and our member ports have worked tirelessly for more than five years to advocate for federal port security funding at this level. The release of these funds is a significant milestone and a vital step forward in protecting America's port facilities.
"Our seaports are one of the nation's first lines of defense against terrorism," Mr. Nagle continued. "Congress and the Administration really stepped up to the plate by approving the fiscal 2008 appropriations bill, which included $400 million for port facility security grants. That action proved they truly want to partner with the ports in protecting our country's most critical infrastructure assets."
Although Congress appropriated $400 million for this year's Port Security Grant program, money must be set aside for program administration, which reduces the total amount available for grant awards.
According to DHS, the deadline for Port Security Grant Program applications is 11:59 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on March 17. The final announcement regarding grant awardees will be made this spring.
As with last round of port security grants in 2007, DHS has again pre-assigned funds to Group I and II port areas, where only the fiduciary agent of those ports areas can apply for award grants. The funds will be distributed to implement port area-wide risk management and mitigation projects, as well as continuity of operations plans. Group III and all other eligible entities may apply directly for the funds without the use of a fiduciary agent.
DHS priority areas for grant awards are:
All applicants must be in full compliance with maritime security regulations and they must have resolved any open or outstanding notice of violation prior to the application deadline for their grant application to be considered.
The SAFE Port Act, signed into law in October 2006, authorizes $400 million a year for the Port Security Grant program. However, 2008 is the first year that Congress has appropriated funds at this crucial level and AAPA will continue to urge Congress and the Administration to maintain that level of funding in fiscal 2009.