CARSON CITY – Nevada’s Homeland Security Commission today adopted a drastically reduced plan to continue the fight against potential terrorist attacks, leaving six ongoing programs without funding because of declining federal support.
Led by Commission Chairman and Gov. Brian Sandoval, the panel of law enforcement and other emergency services providers unanimously adopted a plan that will see $4.3 million in total federal funding this year, a 60 percent reduction in funding from 2011 when Nevada received $10.8 million.
The commission approved funding for 10 projects and programs, including its three threat analysis, or “fusion” centers, but another 11 received no funding at all. Six of the 11 were to sustain existing programs, from the Washoe County Silver Shield program to the Carson City Regional Citizen Corps. Silver Shield programs are those designed to protect critical infrastructure, from water systems to government operations.
The projects receiving funding were the result of a collaborative effort by the statewide commission.
The federal funding comes via two programs: the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Federal support for both programs was reduced significantly this year. The UASI funding totaled $2.66 million, down from $5.7 million last year, and the SHSP funding totaled $1.65 million, down from $5.14 million in 2011.
Even so, Rick Martin, program manager for the state Division of Emergency Management, said the funding priorities developed by commission members and support staff and funded today will keep Nevada safe.
“That’s certainly what we’re concerned with as well, and that was part of the commission’s priorities this year, is to ensure that we virtually get the biggest bang for the buck and that we are safe and that we are sustaining the programs and projects that are most important to this process,” he said.
Martin said efforts will continue to find other sources of money for the projects that received no funding.
“We’re going to work diligently to find additional funding, not only in the homeland security grant program but the other preparedness grant programs as well,” he said. “So we’re going to work really hard to make sure that some of these programs don’t go away.”
The reduction in federal funding for homeland security has been a source of concern for Sandoval and the commission as a whole.
At the March commission meeting, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said federal officials need to reassess the “threat matrix” used to allocate funding to states and cities for homeland security efforts, particularly given the reduced level of funding being made available. Gillespie said the formula gives a higher priority for funding to cities like Detroit without taking into consideration how cities like Las Vegas and Seattle have changed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
At today’s meeting the commission also agreed to seek federal approval to use about $569,000 in “de-obligated” homeland security funding allocated to Nevada in prior years to support some of the 11 programs and projects that received no money.
Even those programs that were funded saw much less money than requested.
The fusion centers, created to coordinate tips and information from around the state to evaluate the potential for terrorism, were funded well below the amounts requested. The northern Nevada center received $283,240 after initially requesting $482,772. The southern Nevada center received just over $1 million after requesting $1.46 million.
Rick Martin, program manager for the state Division of Emergency Management, says the safety of Nevadans and visitors was a top priority in the funding decisions:
Martin says efforts will be made to find funding for the other programs and projects: