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State grant funds can be used to maintain previously purchased homeland security equipment

Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy

The House Committee on Homeland Security has approved legislation that would enable state, local and tribal governments to use a portion of their homeland security grant monies to maintain their previously purchased equipment.

The measure was introduced by Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH) in October 2009 because the previous month FEMA had announced that grant recipients could not use funds received under Urban Area Security Initiative Grants or State Homeland Security Grants to maintain and sustain their equipment outside the performance period of the original grants.

To a certain extent, the purpose of the new legislation, H.R. 3837, has been overtaken by events because afterv the House took its action, FEMA reversed its position and issued a new Information Bulletin that rescinded its earlier directive. However, the sponsors of the legislation, known as the Strengthening and Updating Resources and Equipment Act, or the SURE Act, aren’t taking any chances.

“While the issuance of the Information Bulletin is a positive development and is responsive to H.R. 3837, it does not have the force of law and can easily be supplanted by this or future Administrations,” says a committee report, number 111-558, issued on July 22.

Cosponsors of the bill were concerned that, if maintenance and sustainment expenditures were prohibited, state, local and tribal governments might be unable to continue using some of their previously purchased systems, such as interoperable communications, hazardous materials response teams, intelligence and information sharing gear, radiological detection and interdiction systems, and weapons of mass destruction detection systems.

“There is also concern that FEMA’s September [2009] maintenance policy will encourage government waste as State, local, and tribal governments will be forced to purchase new equipment with [state grant] awards rather than spending a smaller amount of their award to maintain the equipment that they already purchased with [state grant] funds,” explains to committee’s report.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved H.R. 3837 and sent it to the full House on July 22.



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