I would be glad to give you my highest recommendation.
DHS funds most preparedness efforts through FEMA and the Preparedness Directorate. The latter, which sends grants to states and municipalities, saw its budget slashed 15 percent this year to $3.4 billion.
The budget includes $838 million for Urban Area Security Grants; $633 million for State Homeland Security Grants (down $305 million from one year ago); $170 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants; and $35 million for Citizen Corps. The FY 2007 budget also sets aside $600 million for the Targeted Infrastructure Protection grant program, which Congress did not fund in FY 2006.
Preparedness funding has changed dramatically. FY 2006 marked the first time DHS allocated more than half its state money on the basis of risk and need. This made a difference to at-risk states. "California, with 12 percent of the U.S. population, half the Pacific Coast and a long border with Mexico now receives 10 percent to 11 percent of the total pot, compared with 8 percent in the past," says Ransdell.
DHS also expects more accountability from the states. It admits that it has had trouble measuring the impact and results of the $6 billion it awarded state programs between 2002 and 2006. DHS expects future funding to support its eight national priorities and 37 target capabilities. It spells these out in the FY 2006 Homeland Security Grant Program: Program Guidance and Application Kit, issued in December 2005.
At the top of its list are three "overarching" priorities: Improve regional collaboration, including formal mutual aid agreements and joint exercises; Implement the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Plan (NRP) to give responders a common vocabulary and approach so they can work together on major incidents; and Continue development the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), an ongoing security assessment of critical infrastructure and resources.
DHS also has four capability-specific priorities. They are: Improve state and local ability to share information and collaborate with organizations at all levels; Enhance interoperable communications through standardization of procedures and technology; Strengthen chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear (CBRNE) detection, response and decontamination capabilities; and Upgrade medical surge and mass prophylaxis capabilities to cope with biological weapons or natural plagues. DHS wants all states and cities to align their plans with these priorities while targeting 37 specific capabilities. These range from such common capabilities as planning and communications to prevention, protection, recovery and response.
DHS also added an eighth priority after the poor responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It admits that the current model for disaster response and recovery, which assumes people will quickly return and begin rebuilding, has proven inadequate. It has ordered a full-scale review of all federal, state and local catastrophe planning, including mass evacuation planning. It is too early to tell how the reevaluation will play out.