DHS Unveils Security Grants of $789 Million

DHS Unveils Security Grants of $789 Million

The Department of Homeland Security will issue new security grants for critical infrastructure that total $789 million, covering ports, freight rail and transit systems plus buffer zones around sensitive facilities including chemical and power plants.

Early word on how some of the grants would be parceled triggered sharp criticism from some New York lawmakers that the DHS was cutting security spending there, just after a would-be bomber left a vehicle with explosives in Times Square.

But the White House emphasized that New York was getting an increase in security funds, as the DHS port and transit grants in the 2010 federal budget are being augmented by money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The new program spending directs $288 million to the Port Security Grant Program, but the department said another $150 million from the Recovery Act boosts the total to $438 million.

The new program will fund various projects around the country, DHS said, to “protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism; enhance maritime domain awareness and risk management capabilities to protect against improvised explosive devices and other non-conventional weapons; conduct training and exercises” and fund worker credentialing.

The DHS is aiming $14.5 million toward freight rail, to guard against terrorist threats to “railroad cars transporting toxic inhalation hazardous materials.”

Another $20 million goes to Amtrak’s intercity passenger system, which mostly operates within the track systems of major freight railroads; that money will be spent “to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from terrorism within the Amtrak rail system.”

A transit security grant pool of $253.4 million this year will be on top of $150 million in ARRA funds, for a total of $403.4 million. Buffer zone grants total $48 million, nearly $58 million will help build or renovate state and local emergency operations centers, and other money goes to communications, bus facilities and to reduce fraud in personal identification documents.

-- Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.