Discussion: Federal Grant Funding For Homeland Security

The administration and Congress face conflicting political pressures and alternative methodologies when determining how to allocate federal homeland security grant assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. Originally, grants were allocated based on population or per capita-based formulas, with guaranteed minimum funding to each state. The underlying assumption of population formulas was that the greater the population, the greater the threat, risk, and vulnerability. The use of these formulas created tension between urban and rural areas. Rural residents considered their safety no less important than that of residents of urban areas, and they argued that terrorists could attack anywhere in the United States. Later, risk-based funding formulas were used, with each state competing for federal homeland security grant dollars based on results of standardized—but subjective—risk assessments. Federal assistance grants continue to be allocated to state governments, but with a new mandate that requires states to pass through a large portion of the federal funds to locals on a regional basis rather than directly to individual cities or counties, as was done previously. This forced each state to designate regional structures and boards to distribute the funds within the state, leading to an environment in which rural and urban areas compete for the limited funding. Each grant funding formula has distinct advantages and disadvantages and none is universally popular. Controversy about the best formula to determine homeland security grant assistance to state and local governments is likely to continue for decades to come.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the assigned pages of the article, “Department of Homeland Security Assistance to States and Localities: A Summary and Issues for the 111th Congress.”   (Reese, S. (2009). Department of Homeland Security assistance to states and localities: A summary and issues for the 111th Congress. Retrieved from http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R40246_20090608.pdf
    Note: You are only required to read pages 1–3 of this article) Consider the historical evolution of federal homeland security assistance programs, funding methodologies, policies, and legislation.
  • Review the assigned pages of the article, “Risk-Based Funding in Homeland Security Grant Legislation: Analysis of Issues for the 109th Congress.”( Reese, S. (2005). Risk-based funding in homeland security grant legislation: Analysis of issues for the 109th Congress. Retrieved from http://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL33050.pdf
    Note: You are only required to read pages 1–3 of this article ) 
    Focus on how and why the emphasis shifted from population-based to risk-based funding methodologies beginning with the Fiscal Year 2006 Homeland Security Grant Program.
  • Review the assigned pages of the article, “Homeland Security Grant Program Risk-Based Distribution Methods: Presentation to Congressional Committees – November 14, 2008 and December 15, 2008.” Consider the validity of risk analysis calculations and methodologies presented in this article. (Masse, T., O’Neil, S., & Rollins, J. (2007). The Department of Homeland Security’s risk assessment methodology: Evolution, issues and options for Congress. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL33858.pdf)(Note: You are only required to read pages 6–7 of this article.)
  • Select one scenario from the following:
    • You are the director of a homeland security office in New York.
    • You are the director of a homeland security office in North Dakota.
  • Consider which grant funding formula (population- or per capita-based or risk-based formula) should be applied for homeland security in the state in the scenario you selected and why.

By Day 4

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 an argument for or against the use of either a population-based or risk-based grant funding formula for homeland security for the specific state or region you selected in the scenario. Be sure to support your argument with academic resources.

Note: Include the state scenario that you selected in the first line of your post. You will be asked to respond to a colleague who chose a different scenario than the one you chose.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.