The Patrick Administration announced today that Massachusetts will receive $ 17.2 million in federal assistance from the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) for state homeland security to carry on the administration’s homeland security efforts. In FFY 05, the Commonwealth received over $30 million in HSGP funding, and those funds have been steadily declining since.
While the nearly 15% decrease in funds from last year is disappointing, it was also anticipated by the Patrick Administration. Over the last year, Governor Deval Patrick has charged his homeland security team to dramatically alter its homeland security strategy so that the safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth would not be impacted by these reductions - an effort memorialized in the State Homeland Security Strategy. The homeland security strategy now incorporates focused priorities, streamlined processes and better management of people and equipment to ensure that the overall efforts provide comprehensive and unified prevention, response and recovery capabilities, whether from terrorism or natural disaster.
“We are more focused and more efficient in matching our resources and efforts”, said Public Safety and Security Secretary Kevin M. Burke. “We have ensured that every purchase made with homeland security funds is consistent with a state strategy that reflects what first responders, localities and the homeland security regions need. Our reality is that we have to do more with less.”
“We made the realistic risk assessment and started to make the complex choices we should expect from responsible government,” said Undersecretary for Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem. “We do not want the citizens of the Commonwealth to live in constant fear of potential threats or perceived vulnerabilities. We are more secure, less scared, and that is the legacy of this Administration’s approach to homeland security.”
Specifically, in anticipation of today’s announcements, the Administration determined that it would seek these funds for more specific priorities, ones that reflected Massachusetts’ unique needs and geography. “Given the continuing threat, the wars abroad, and the real fiscal issues this country faces, we knew we had to think realistically about what this would mean for our state. We need to change the notion that more funds always equates with optimal security. Our approach – plans before purchases - is more efficient, and ultimately more successful”, said Undersecretary Kayyem.
In support of the state strategy, the Commonwealth has planned the following categories of investments for this stream of funding
Enhancement of Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear Explosion and Improvised Explosive Device Preparedness – Build upon and unify efforts of bomb squads and other first responders to enhance CBRNE/IED prevention and response capabilities.
Mass Care and Evacuation; Enhancement of Preparedness and Response to Pandemic Influenza – Coordinate efforts between regional and local public health and public safety emergency management. Enhancing capabilities to provide care, sheltering and services to those affected by a public health emergency.
Critical Infrastructure Assessment Methodology – Enable local, state and regional partners to undertake the multiple facets of identifying, understanding, assessing, and protecting critical assets in a consistent, coordinated and collaborative manner based on a new statewide system.
Regional Information Sharing and Communications – Manage resources and interoperable communication related activities through a statewide database managed by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Exercising and Evaluating Plans – Continue (NIMS) implementation and enhance training and exercises in Massachusetts to ensure that planning on paper is understood and tested.
Governor Patrick’s strategy of focused planning has benefited the state, and the Department of Homeland Security has taken notice. As a potential offset to the decrease in the funds announced today, the state was awarded in April nearly $22 million in new funding from the Department of Homeland Security to promote interoperability based on its successful State Interoperability Plan. This plan incorporated the needs of numerous stakeholders to ensure that communication needs were addressed in a comprehensive fashion. Massachusetts also received $3 million to enhance port security (an increase of 194%) with a particular focus on trade resumption and resiliency. This funding has gone toward planning so that if the port were to close for whatever reason, the state would know how to ensure that the economic needs of New England were identified and adequately addressed.
For the State Homeland Security Strategy, the State Interoperability Plan and other related documents, visit www.mass.gov/eops