DHS Announces Funding Opportunity for $1.87 Billion in Preparedness Grants

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas today announced the release of the funding notice for eight different types of preparedness grants worth nearly $1.87 billion. Together, these programs provide more than $1.8 billion in critical funding to assist our state and local partners in building and sustaining capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other disasters.

Secretary Mayorkas issued the following statement about this year’s grant awards:

“In the almost 20 years since September 11, 2001, the terrorism threat landscape has changed considerably. Today the most significant terrorist threat facing the nation comes from lone offenders and small groups of individuals who commit acts of violence motivated by domestic extremist ideological beliefs. While we continue to lawfully protect against threats posed by foreign terrorist organizations, we also must ensure adequate focus and funding is provided to combat domestic terrorism, some of which is motivated by false narratives and extremist rhetoric spread through social media and other online platforms.

“This year, and for the first time, I have designated combating domestic violent extremism as a ‘National Priority Area’ for the FY 2021 State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant programs. Recipients of these grants will be required to spend at least 7.5 percent of their awards on combating domestic violent extremism (DVE). Put another way, states and local governments across the nation will spend at least $77 million in grant funding to ensure we have the necessary capabilities to detect and protect against threats from DVE. This approach will help raise the nation’s security baseline and prioritize activities to combat DVE, including open source analysis of threats, execution of threat assessment programs, the development and sharing of intelligence across states and between states and the federal government, and the development of training and awareness programs.

“With today’s grant awards, I am also directing additional grant funding to support cybersecurity efforts. As we have seen in recent events, attacks on our cyber networks can have devastating effects. Accordingly, I have required that SHSP and UASI recipients spend at least 7.5 percent of their grant awards to enhance their cybersecurity posture. With this funding, state and local grant recipients can conduct cybersecurity risk assessments, strengthen their ‘dot gov’ internet domains, improve the cybersecurity of their critical infrastructure, and conduct additional cybersecurity training and planning.

“Finally, this year’s grant awards will prohibit the purchase of certain equipment such as grenade launchers, bayonets, and weaponized aircraft. Other types of ‘controlled’ equipment will require oversight and approvals. We will continue to support the purchase of critical equipment that has a demonstrable impact on enhancing the safety of law enforcement and members of the public.

“The threats we face as a nation have evolved significantly throughout the past 20 years. Therefore, I am directing the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a systematic review of these programs and to submit a report and recommendations to me. I will then engage – personally and extensively – with our state, local, tribal, and territorial partners across the country to inform future grant awards. It is through open and fulsome engagement that the Department can most effectively accomplish its mission. We are proud to support the brave and noble first responder community through these critical grant programs.”

The Fiscal Year 2021 grant guidance will continue to focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, including urban areas that face the most significant threats and national priorities. This year, the Urban Area Security Initiative will enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 31 high-threat, high-density urban areas. This represents Congressional intent to limit these funds to those urban areas that represent up to 85% of the nationwide risk.

As the threats to our nation evolve, so too must the grant programs intended to prepare communities for those threats. To that end, DHS has identified five critical priority areas for attention in the FY 2021 grant cycle: cybersecurity, soft targets and crowded places, intelligence and information sharing, domestic violent extremism, and emerging threats. Grant recipients under the State Homeland Security Program and Urban Area Security Initiative will be required to dedicate a minimum of 30% of awards to address these five priority areas: cybersecurity (7.5%, an increase of at least $25 million across the country); soft target and crowded places (5%); information and intelligence sharing (5%); domestic violent extremism (7.5%); and emerging threats (5%).

As with previous years, new capabilities that are built using homeland security grant funding must be deployable if needed to support regional and national efforts. All capabilities being built or sustained must have a clear linkage to the core capabilities articulated in the National Preparedness Goal.

Preparedness Grant Program Allocations for Fiscal Year 2021

The following grants are non-competitive and awarded to recipients based on a number of factors:

State Homeland Security Program—provides $415 million to support the implementation of risk-driven, capabilities-based state homeland security strategies to address capability targets. Awards are based on statutory minimums and relative risk as determined by DHS/FEMA’s risk methodology.

Urban Area Security Initiative—provides $615 million to enhance regional preparedness and capabilities in 31 high-threat, high-density areas. Awards are based on relative risk as determined by DHS/FEMA’s risk methodology.

  • For both the state homeland and urban area grants, 30% of the awards must address the five priority areas of cybersecurity, soft target and crowded places, information and intelligence sharing, domestic violent extremism, and emerging threats. Additionally, 25% of these grants must be dedicated to law enforcement terrorism prevention activities, and 80% of these grants must be obligated from the state to local or tribal governments within 45 days of receipt.

Emergency Management Performance Grant—provides more than $355 million to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in enhancing and sustaining all-hazards emergency management capabilities. Relative population is considered.

Intercity Passenger Rail—provides $10 million to Amtrak to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and increase the resilience of the Amtrak rail system. Award made per congressional direction.

The following grants are competitive, and exact awards will be announced later this year:

Operation Stonegarden—provides $90 million to enhance cooperation and coordination among state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal law enforcement agencies to jointly enhance security along the United States land and water borders.

Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program —provides $15 million to eligible tribal nations to implement preparedness initiatives to help strengthen the nation against risk associated with potential terrorist attacks and other hazards.

Nonprofit Security Grant Program—provides $180 million to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements for nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. This year, $90 million is provided to nonprofits in UASI-designated urban areas, and $90 million is provided to nonprofits outside of UASI-designated urban areas located in any state or territory.

Port Security Grant Program—provides $100 million to help protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or re-establish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.

Transit Security Grant Program —provides $88 million to owners and operators of public transit systems to protect critical surface transportation and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.

Intercity Bus Security Grant Program —provides $2 million to owners and operators of intercity bus systems to protect surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.

All preparedness funding notices can be found at www.grants.gov. Final submissions must be made through the non-disaster grants system located at https://portal.fema.gov.

Further information on DHS’s preparedness grant programs is available at www.dhs.gov and http://www.fema.gov/grants.

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the 2017 October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) wildfires, the Camp Fire in 2018, the 2020 statewide fire siege, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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