Increased Funding, Eligibility Set Stage For Improved Seaport Security
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today welcomed news from the Office of Grants and Training within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that Round 7 of the Port Security Grant program is now open for applications. As part of a unified Infrastructure Protection Program, the seventh round of Port Security Grant awards will provide nearly $201.2 million to eligible applicants, while the remainder of the $210 million Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2007’s program will pay for administrating it.
“This year’s appropriation represents a 20 percent increase over the $175 million that Congress appropriated for port facility security grants in fiscal year 2006,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. “Because of the changes that AAPA was able to get enacted in the SAFEPort Act of 2006 (signed into law on Oct. 13, 2006), all port facilities included in local Area Maritime Security Plans are eligible to apply.”
Mr. Nagle noted that while AAPA applauds the funding increase and lifting of eligibility restrictions in this year’s Port Security Grant program, “…we regret that Congress didn’t fund the program to its full $400 million authorized amount.”
Susan Monteverde, AAPA’s vice president of government relations, says the FY2007 Port Security Grant Program’s priorities are similar to those of FY2006, with a few notable exceptions, such as the addition of training and security exercises.
As in Round 6, expenses relating to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program, which the Transportation Security Administration began rolling out in 2006 to approve worker access to secure port areas, will be eligible for funding as part of maritime domain awareness. Other funding priorities continued from Round 6 include increased situational awareness, prevention and detection of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and national preparedness goals.
New for Round 7 is a system of grouping eligible ports into four risk-based tiers. The top eight port areas applying for grant funds that DHS classifies as being at the highest risk are grouped in Tier I. They will compete for approximately $120 million of the $201 million available. In many cases, multiple port areas have been grouped together to reflect geographic proximity, shared risk and a common waterway. Port area grant applicants assigned to Tiers II, III or IV will compete for a portion of the total funds set aside for their respective tier: $40.2 million in Tier II; $30.2 million in Tier III; and $10 million in Tier IV. DHS will assess risk to port areas using a methodology consisting of threat, vulnerability and consequence factors, and will award funds based on that analysis and the effectiveness of proposed investments by each applicant.
As in FY’06, all entities receiving FY’07 Port Security Grant awards will pay a cost-share amount to participate. Public entities, such as seaport authorities, must pay 25 percent, while private entities, such as sightseeing cruise and petroleum terminals, will have to pay 50 percent. Funding for ferry-related security projects is now available through DHS’ Transit Security Grant Program, also administered by the Office of Grants and Training.
Those receiving grant awards will have up to 36 months to complete their project(s), which is six months longer than in 2006.