AAPA Welcomes Release of $388 Million in Federal Security Grants for Ports
Money Will Help Pay For Terminal Access Controls, Terrorist Response Training, Regional Collaboration
Today's announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that $388.6 million in Infrastructure Protection Program funds is now available to eligible grant applicants under the federal Port Security Grant Program is being met with cheers by ports and other maritime entities throughout the United States.
"This is great news," said Kurt Nagle, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) president and CEO. "AAPA and our member ports have worked tirelessly for more than five years to advocate for federal port security funding at this level. The release of these funds is a significant milestone and a vital step forward in protecting America's port facilities.
"Our seaports are one of the nation's first lines of defense against terrorism," Mr. Nagle continued. "Congress and the Administration really stepped up to the plate by approving the fiscal 2008 appropriations bill, which included $400 million for port facility security grants. That action proved they truly want to partner with the ports in protecting our country's most critical infrastructure assets."
Although Congress appropriated $400 million for this year's Port Security Grant program, money must be set aside for program administration, which reduces the total amount available for grant awards.
According to DHS, the deadline for Port Security Grant Program applications is 11:59 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on March 17. The final announcement regarding grant awardees will be made this spring.
As with last round of port security grants in 2007, DHS has again pre-assigned funds to Group I and II port areas, where only the fiduciary agent of those ports areas can apply for award grants. The funds will be distributed to implement port area-wide risk management and mitigation projects, as well as continuity of operations plans. Group III and all other eligible entities may apply directly for the funds without the use of a fiduciary agent.
DHS' priority areas for grant awards are:
Awareness improvements within the maritime domain, including access control credentialing systems such as equipment to read the new Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) cards that are now being issued;
Efforts to support TWIC implementation, including costs associated with TWIC systems installation;
Capabilities to prevent, detect, respond to and recover from a terrorist attack;
Training and exercise initiatives that directly support port area maritime security, port security and national preparedness and response; and,
Steps to enhance national preparedness by expanding regional collaboration and implementing federal plans.
DHS said that all applicants must be in full compliance with maritime security regulations and they must have resolved any open or outstanding notice of violation prior to the application deadline for their grant application to be considered.
The SAFE Port Act, which Congress passed and was signed into law by President Bush in October 2006, authorizes $400 million a year for the Port Security Grant program. However, 2008 is the first year that Congress has appropriated funds at this crucial level and AAPA will continue to urge Congress and the Administration to maintain that level of funding in fiscal 2009.