Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 17, 2006

DHS IG reviews port security grants

Filed under: Port and Maritime Security,Risk Assessment — by Christian Beckner on March 17, 2006

The DHS Inspector General publicly released a report today entitled “Follow Up Review of the Port Security Grant Program.” The report tracks the Department’s progress in addressing recommendations put forward by the IG in an earlier report from January 2005.

The new report notes that DHS has been able to address most of the recommendations and that the latest round of grant allocations reflected these changes. The report suggests a few additional and minor changes to the risk assessment and allocation process:

  1. Establish a minimum score threshold under the new selection and evaluation process that projects must meet. Funding in the top three tiers not used as a result of implementing this minimum threshold should be reallocated to a lower tier;
  2. Modify the Grants Management System (GMS) or the National Review Panel (NRP) internal database to require NRP members to enter a reason for adjusting a field review score;
  3. Seek more consistent scoring by field reviewers;
  4. Conduct a “pre-audit” of proposed grant award decisions; and,
  5. Require private sector applicants to demonstrate how a federal grant would enhance their own security investments as a condition to receiving a grant.

Overall though, this is a very positive review for the Port Security Grant Program.

One other interesting point to note. The report contains this chart that explains the weighting system for evaluating projects:

The prominence given to IED’s above all other threats is striking and a bit surprising to me. They’re a real threat in this context, but not the only one. Perhaps I’m misreading this chart, but it seems to imply a discounting of other threats, such as radiological or nuclear attacks. And it seems to ignore threats that are not simply directed at the port, but instead use the port as a means to carry out an attack on a broader target. I know that funds are very limited for this program, but at some point resources should be directed at the broader shipping system, and not simply the physical assets of the port.

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