- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Homeland Security Department for the first time will include grant money for local and state agencies to prepare for the threat of small bombs.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the new guidelines incorporate several reforms mandated by Congress to allocate more money on the basis of risk to state and local governments.

Miss Collins also called it “good news that DHS is also emphasizing the importance of bomb prevention” with an estimated $422 million in new spending.

“This welcome development indicates that the department shares my concern about the threat posed by [improvised explosive devices] and provides even more support for the National Bombing Prevention Act, legislation that I introduced last year to promote counter-IED security planning, training, and research and development,” Miss Collins said.

Washington, along with New York and Los Angeles are again named high-risk areas and will compete for $430 million in that specific grant while other cities will pull from a pool of $352 million.

Overall, the department will distribute $3 billion in grants this year and allow local and state agencies to spend some of the federal dollars on personnel.

“This year, we’re asking applicants to prioritize preparedness planning and counter IED threats,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

“We are focusing 25 percent of key program dollars on these priorities, and we’re giving communities even greater clarity on how we seek to minimize our collective risk,” Mr. Chertoff said.

Spending for this year also includes more than $852 million for infrastructure protection which includes transit systems such as buses, ferries and passenger- and freight-rail security.

Nearly $389 million has been allocated to protect ports against IED attacks and other nonconventional attacks.

Emergency-management grants total $291 million plus $16 million for a trucking security program that will recruit drivers to participate in awareness and protection programs.

In addition, more than $48 million has been set aside to help states come into compliance with federal regulations for driver’s licenses, called REAL ID.

Spending in 2008 will increase $376 million over last year.

Homeland Security distributes 14 grants and since its inception has issued nearly $23 billion to local authorities to prepare for and react to acts of terrorism and natural disasters.

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