Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 2, 2006

DHS blames NYC for its UASI funding cut

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on June 2, 2006

A story in the the New York Times today provides additional details on NYC’s application for funds, suggesting that the city’s application was to blame for its 40% funding cut:

In a report that outlines why it cut back New York City’s share of antiterrorism funds by roughly 40 percent, the Department of Homeland Security was so critical of some highly viewed local measures — like Operation Atlas, in which hundreds of extra police officers carry out counterterrorism duties around the city each day — that the Police Department and other city agencies must now seek further federal approval before drawing on the money they were given to pay for those programs.

Federal officials said yesterday that the city had not only done a poor job of articulating its needs in its application, but had also mishandled the application itself, failing to file it electronically as required, instead faxing its request to Washington.

City and state officials insisted that they had made no mistakes. And a state official provided a written acknowledgment from the federal government saying that the city’s application for grant money had been “successfully submitted” and said that the city could “log in” any time to view the application.

….The report, obtained yesterday, pointed out opposing views held by cities and the federal government over how antiterrorism money should be spent and, as an extension of those views, how terrorism should be fought.

City officials have used federal money to subsidize continuing costs, like paying overtime to officers. The federal government, on the other hand, wants the grants to pay for semipermanent safeguards that can increase security over the long term, like improvements in communications systems, better gas masks and increased training.

The report faulted the city for not adequately explaining why the money being requested could reduce risks.

Though the report said the city was in the top 25 percent of urban areas at risk, it rated the city in the bottom 25 percent in the quality of its application. It rated the Police Department’s counterterrorism program and Operation Atlas as below average in sustainability, a criticism of the continuing overtime costs.

Eight of the city’s programs including the counterterrorism division and Operation Atlas, as well as some health and training programs — fell in the bottom 15 percent, meaning any federal money used toward them will need to be specifically approved.

Wow. I’m stunned by the fact that DHS would make an issue of the fact that NYC (allegedly) submitted the paperwork incorrectly – WTFC? What does that have to do with the security of the nation?

Also, the suggestions that New York City’s counterterrorism programs are low-quality is coming directly from through the looking glass. In my opinion, based largely on this story from The New Yorker last year, and this 60 Minutes piece from March 2006, New York City is setting the gold standard for city-level homeland security and counterterrorism efforts. Anyone who would criticize NYC’s efforts on the grounds suggested in the NYT piece is woefully misinformed.

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