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Homeland Security releases application for Port Security Grant Program

By Steve Bittenbender

Earlier this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it has begun accepting applications for its Port Security Grant Program. The latest round of funding will make up to $100 million available to port authorities, facility operators and state or local governments that are mandated to provide security for maritime ports.

The grant program provides applicants with direction funding to support their planned initiatives to mitigate port security risks. Winning agencies must agree to match 25 percent of project’s total costs. For example, if a port authority applies for a $500,000 project, it must take care of $125,000 of the costs either through cash or in-kind contributions.

The program “plays an important role in the implementation of the National Preparedness System by supporting the building, sustainment, and delivery of core capabilities essential to achieving the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient Nation,” the agency said in its announcement. “Delivering core capabilities requires the combined effort of the whole community, rather than the exclusive effort of any single organization or level of government.”

FEMA, a Department of Homeland Security agency, is encouraging applicants to apply with that projects that will help them in such areas as: enhancing key locations within the National Port Readiness Network; improving the ability to detect improvised explosive or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear devices; improving a port’s protection and resilience capacities from IED or CBRNE devices; bolstering cybersecurity; providing additional training and exercises for port workers; and implementing Transportation Worker Identification Credentials.

Ports are limited to one grant application, but they may include in their application up to five investment justifications, or projects, that detail how authority or government officials will use grant funding to improve port security.

Federal officials said that grants used to purchase, use or maintain security equipment for ports – such as barriers or fencing, lighting systems, remote surveillance systems or video systems – cannot receive more than $1 million in federal funds without approval from the Homeland Security Secretary.

Initiatives that receive grant funding should be completed within three years, FEMA officials said in the grant announcement.

The American Association of Port Authorities calls the Port Security Grant Program a valuable initiative that helps protect a vital part of the country. However, the AAPA believes that federal lawmakers should restore previous cuts and make up to $400 million available.

In fiscal years 2008 and 2009, federal officials made more than $388 million available. The program was cut drastically in the years since.

“AAPA is concerned that recent dramatic cuts to FEMA non-disaster grant program funding, including the PSGP, will threaten the ability of our nation to maintain our current level of security or expand upon it,” the organization said on its Web site.

The deadline to submit an application is April 25. FEMA officials expect to announce recipients about two months later, with projects starting in early September.

For more information about the grant program, go to grants.gov and type “port security” in the keyword search box.


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