The Department of Homeland Security’s proposal to consolidate 16 of 18 FEMA grant programs (excluding Emergency Management Performance Grants and fire grants) for FY 2013 has received significant criticism from local government officials. The DHS has proposed a National Preparedness Grant Program (NPGP) as an overarching program that would help streamline the grants process, eliminating the different requirements of “multiple individual, often disconnected, grant programs.”
According to FEMA, budget cuts necessitated the streamlined approach.
Criticism of the proposal has come from all over, including the National League of Cities. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, who spoke on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) last month, criticized the proposed plan, stating that "the NPGP proposal moves away from the current regional governance, assessment and strategy-based approach to a competitive and individual project-based approach that will pit cities, counties, and states against each other for funding. This will generate conflict instead of fostering collaboration as is currently the case."
The USCM stated that the new program,
which would require legislation, would eliminate current separate programs, including state homeland security grants, UASI, transportation and infrastructure protection ... and the pre-disaster mitigation fund. There would be no requirement in the formula grants program that states pass through a portion of the funds to local governments. Because of the emphasis on regional approaches in the competitive grant program, it is unlikely that grants would go to individual local governments.
Critics also noted the elimination of funding for the pre-disaster mitigation fund ($35.5 million in FY 2012) for disaster prevention. A more in-depth analysis of this and other FY 2013 proposed budget items can be read here at the American Planning Association website.
Refer to the March hearing on the proposed consolidated grant program for a more complete view of this issue with full transcripts of the testimonials. The DHS is currently conducting stakeholder outreach on the proposal that is expected to be completed by June.
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