Today, local, state and federal leaders announced how they plan to use almost $62 million in anti-terrorism money. The federal funds will pay to upgrade local bomb squads, complete radio communication upgrades within all underground segments of the WMATA Metrorail tunnels, complete the integration of local, state and federal law enforcement data through enhanced intelligence and information sharing across the region.
In July, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded the region $61.6 million through its Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program. The region applied for $140 million, and this figure was based on needs identified in the region’s strategic plan and risk assessment.
The funds were allocated to improve the region’s preparations in seven different areas: interoperable communications ($2.9 million), community preparedness ($1.6 million), intelligence sharing ($8 million), critical infrastructure protection ($1.5 million), WMD response ($10.4 million), operational emergency planning ($7 million), and training ($6 million).
Officials again stressed that many disaster preparations can’t be completed because the region received less money than needed. The region received 56 percent less than it requested this year.
The announcement was made by local, state and federal officials in the National Capital Region (NCR), representing the region’s counties and cities, the District of Columbia, the state of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of National Capital Region Coordination.
This year officials will focus funds on key regional priorities. These include investments to continue improvement of communications with each other during events, completely funding equipment purchases for bomb squads to bring them up to the highest capability level and obtaining specialized equipment and training for rescue and response operations for an incident in the Metrorail tunnels.
Money also will be used to promote the region’s text messaging alert systems, increase the number of intelligence analysts at area fusion centers and train and exercise with first responders and other partners across the region.
While great progress has been made with the use of UASI grant funds, more funding is necessary to meet the unique challenges the region faces. So to be better prepared for next year’s funding decisions and to leverage additional funding for the key regional priorities through other sources this year, comprehensive operational planning will be funded this year. The planning efforts will focus on preparedness, evacuation, mass care and medical surge needs in case of a catastrophic event.
The National Capital Region — which is comprised of 11 local jurisdictions, two states and the District of Columbia — prepares for disasters collaboratively. This unique regional structure, in the area that is home to the nation’s capital with the associated elevated risks, requires an equally complex system to determine how to best and most equitably allocate scarce resources such as UASI funds.
The NCR’s elected officials, emergency management, law enforcement, fire, and public health personnel, along with the nonprofit and private sectors, work together across the region’s jurisdictional boundaries to identify projects to improve the region’s emergency preparedness.
Past homeland security dollars have been spent efficiently on key regional priorities. To date, the region has spent or obligated all of the money on these key priorities.
Using more than $200 million in UASI grants, the NCR has enhanced interoperable communications, offered emergency alerts and notifications to the public, educated the public on disaster preparedness, assisted special needs populations to prepare, increased medical readiness and equipped first responders to respond to all hazards.
The National Capital Region invests in disaster preparations in an efficient, regionally coordinated manner, and the region’s homeland security spending is focused on the greatest risks and needs.
Urban Area Security Initiative
The Urban Area Security Initiative provides financial assistance through grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to high-risk urban areas. In the NCR, the UASI grant is governed by the Senior Policy Group (SPG) in coordination with the Chief Administrative Officers from the National Capital Region. The SPG consists of senior leaders, specifically the homeland security advisors for the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland; the state emergency management directors for the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland; and the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of National Capital Region Coordination.