Forget 2012; work on the funds already awarded. Port terminals risk losing their one last shot at millions in FEMA/DHS Port Security Grant Funds if they don’t act decisively before Sept. 2012.
As of Jan. 31, 2012 FEMA reports that the most at-risk port communities in America have banked $303,980,061 of the $1,369,263, 074 awarded to ports, terminals and security agencies from FY 2007 through 2010, “leaving a balance of $1,065,283,014.”
All of the $1 billion that is still sitting in the federal treasury has been dedicated to thousands of security projects and equipment approved at the highest levels as essential to protect ports against terrorist attacks from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 Port Security Grants (PSG).
Dollars and rust
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered that by Sept. 20, 2012 these Port Security Grant funds that have already been awarded to ports, port security facilities, cruise and cargo terminals must be spent or reprogrammed with the guidance of FEMA and the appropriate regional Fiduciary Agent (FA) or they will turn to dust.
The funds can be reprogrammed under new modified regulations promulgate by FEMA/DHS. They can be spent for risk reduction, equipment maintenance, overtime and increased personnel in categories other than originally stated in the grant budgets. And in some cases the money can be secured with a reduction or removal of the 25-50 percent local match.
Little has been done to even attempt to capture this potential windfall because of tight city, county and port budgets and the difficulty making the 25% match attached to the 2007-2009 grant awards. Overworked FAs are also struggling to complete paperwork for so many conflicting deadlines.
The most enlightened and organized Area Maritime Security Committees and their Fiduciary Agents have decided it is a worthwhile choice to spend their time reprogramming 2007-2010 grant allocations rather than rush to enter the competition for 50% match PSG grants with an application deadline of May 4, 2012.
In fact, if the designated Fiduciary Agent within the port, terminal or security agency has not completed these steps by the time you read this, it will be virtually impossible to hit the 2012 grant cycle marks by May 4, 2012.
- Agency/Corporation identifies point of contact and financial administrator for 2012 Port Security Grants.
- POC collects DUNS number, EIN, corporate documentation and depository information
- Agency/Corporation applies with Grants.gov and applies as CCR and ND Grants.
- Agency or corporation meets to decide on PSG grant targets based on critical security needs and ability to submit Investment Justification (IJ) by May 4, 2012 and ability to complete the proposed project/acquisition in 24 months from grant award.
- Agency or corporation executives decide if they can afford the 50%match and from what source over the next 24 months.
- Individual IJs and individual budgets checked for compliance at department level
- Ijs and budget submitted to Point of contact.
- Begin the efforts to assemble the AMSC in one place at one time before April 27, 2012.
On the other hand, Napolitano has been instructed to turn the sluggish grant response from 2007 to 2011 into a “stimulus program,” by changing the rules for the already committed funds.
According to FEMA, “The Secretary’s Guidance provides measures which grantees may employ to reprioritize their grant funds to put grant funding to work quickly by addressing immediate needs and building core capabilities that will support preparedness in the long run. These measures are:
- “DHS/FEMA will allow grantees to apply previously awarded FY 2007-2011 grant balances towards more urgent priorities by way of an expedited project approval by DHS/FEMA. Specifically, this allows expenditure on general purpose equipment and overtime/backfill expenses for first responders engaged in protection or prevention activities as long as both equipment purchases and overtime/backfill costs align to and support one or more core capabilities in the National Preparedness Goal. Further, equipment must be sharable through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
- “DHS/FEMA will expand allowable expenses under the Port and Transit Security Grant Program, in accordance the SAFE Port Act and 9/11 Act, respectively. For the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), allowable costs include those listed within 46 USC Section 70107(b) (eligible costs) that do not involve construction.