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Homeland Security

Statement of Art Cleaves

Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs

""Investing in Homeland Security: Challenges Facing State and Local Governments""

May, 15 2003

Prepared Statement
Art Cleaves, Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency
“Investing in Homeland Security: Challenges Facing State and Local Governments”
May 15, 2003

Good afternoon Senator Collins, Senator Lieberman and distinguished members of the Government Affairs Committee. I am Art Cleaves, Director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency. Our office is the homeland security coordination center for the State of Maine. In addition, our office administers all FEMA grants in the state, and all Office of Domestic Preparedness grants, beginning with the program’s inception under the Department of Justice. Maine is a largely rural state and may be thought of less at risk from terrorist activities than more urban areas of the country. However, with our long coastline and international border we have unique vulnerabilities. We have the great responsibility of ensuring that our citizens remain blessedly safe. We also have a unique opportunity, and a responsibility we feel keenly, to act as sentinel for our neighbors to the south and west. We will never be able to forget that two of the September 11 hijackers began their deadly journey in our state.

Since before September 11, those of us in the profession of emergency management have been working closely with the federal government on the fielding of terrorism preparedness and weapons of mass destruction preparedness programs. On September 11, however, awareness was tragically awakened of the critical need for these programs. Our office – and I’m sure every individual member of Congress – was besieged with requests for funds to support planning, training, equipment and personnel costs.

In addition there were requests to reimburse states and communities for what were perceived as national security costs, dollars expended by state and local governments to respond to a national threat.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the Congress for the passage of the FY 2003 State Homeland Security Grant Program Part II. This is a giant step forward not just in the resources provided to the states, but also for the flexibility in implementation it gives to us. In addition, the ability to reimburse cities and towns for actions taken during Operation Liberty Shield and in future events is something that I think we have collectively wanted to do since September 11, and it will be a great pleasure for me personally to distribute those funds.

With the package just fielded, we are afforded flexibility in the amount of the award that can be used for equipment, planning, training, exercise or administration. We are also permitted to use training dollars, if needed, to reimburse overtime personnel costs required for successful training and exercise. This flexibility is welcome beyond words, and for more than just what it will allow us to do in achieving preparedness goals. It also demonstrates how responsive this Committee and the Congress as a whole have been to feedback on the effectiveness of these grant programs. That bodes well for our collective ability to be able to serve our citizens well in the future. We must always be willing to look at what is working, and fix what is not.

We also appreciate and fully support Senate Bill S. 838, introduced by Senator Collins, which creates a process by which states can request to reallocate funds received pursuant to appropriations for the State Homeland Security Grant Program among the four categories of equipment, training, exercise, and planning. This will give us the opportunity for flexibility in all the grants we are currently administering.

I am totally supportive of the guidelines that dictate the 80% pass-through of ODP grant funds to local communities. It is, after all, local communities who bear the brunt of first response. We have not adequately addressed their needs, and we must do so. But without reducing direct aid to communities, I think that in the future we will need to look at those cases where supporting programs at the state level will benefit all communities in an efficient and cost-effective way. Let me reiterate that I don’t support sacrificing any direct pass-through programs in order to increase state capability. But there are times where increasing state capability achieves a direct benefit to the community. As we look at the structure of future funding possibilities, I think we need to be able to identify and support those opportunities.

Let me now address another concern we have, that being efficient coordination of grants from the federal level.

In Maine, when we first began to administer FEMA’s Terrorism Consequences Management Planning Assistance (TCMPA) funding (100% funding for terrorism preparedness) and the DOJ, now ODP funds, it was immediately obvious that we needed to supply in-state a coordination that was not present within the federal government. We put together an interagency team with county and local participation to develop our homeland security strategy, and guide the grant-making process.

Today, a number of funding streams are gathered under the mantel of the Department of Homeland Security. But there are others that are not. Funds are available HHS, from EPA, and probably from other federal sources of which I am not yet aware. We could create 50 full-time jobs across the states, tracking federal homeland security grant opportunities and share information with potential grantees within that state. How much more efficient it would be if federal government agencies could better coordinate their grant opportunities, ensure that there was no redundancy in these precious resources, and even support each other in publicizing these opportunities.

I think we are doing a good job in Maine coordinating among our state agencies and using grant funds to complement, not duplicate, each other’s efforts. I could stop being concerned right now. But as a taxpayer, I do think a better job at coordination can be done “at the top”. I’m not advocating that all funding opportunities be relocated to DHS. It’s absolutely appropriate that federal agencies with particular missions work directly with their state. But DHS and other federal departments can use the “bully pulpit” afforded them as sources of funding to encourage states to coordinate the efforts of all the state departments involved in homeland security. The best “bang for the buck” can be achieved by building capability for homeland security incidents on the backbone of all-hazard emergency management capability, which has as a basic tenet cooperation and coordination among all agencies.

Lastly I would like to address the grant application process itself. My agency administers both the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) and the ODP grants. We find that both models have merit. The EMPG model is one that we find extremely flexible and easy to work with. Annually, we submit a strategic plan containing long-term goals and objectives, and the broad strategies we will use to achieve those goals. We also submit a detailed work plan which we use to track activities internally. FEMA approves that plan, as well as the budget we submit. We report quarterly on our spending and activities, and on achievements at the strategy level. With our final annual report we compare our accomplishments with our goals for the year. We identify our significant accomplishments and those areas where more remains to be done. We are held accountable both fiscally and programmatically, but are allowed flexibility in the design of the overall program.

We use a similar process to manage EMPG grants to county emergency management agencies, and monitor their progress against their own goals. This is the model we would like to see all grants follow. Indeed, we could envision the EMPG program platform being expanded to include not only the matching funds that help us build our base emergency management capacity, but also the 100% grants made available to address homeland security needs, and future all-hazard grant opportunities as well.

With the Department of Homeland Security now in place, we have a great opportunity to improve program coordination. With the all-hazards approach that has been the foundation of emergency management, and the existing programs in the mix, we have people experienced in administering grants efficiently and effectively, and the infrastructure to support them. The relationships are already in place that connect federal, state and local governments in preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation every single day. As the Department continues to evolve, we have a solid base to build on.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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