DHS Grants $191 Million to Defend Cities

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Department of Homeland Security awarded $191 million in grants yesterday to defend ports, transit systems and bus lines from terrorists, increasing funding for major urban areas in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states whose funds were slashed earlier this year in a controversial decision.

New York received $25.7 million in port security grants, up from $6.6 million last year; Baltimore was granted $4.8 million, up from $1 million; and Hampton Roads, which received none in 2005, was awarded $3.5 million.

Losers included Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., which received $12 million, down from $24.2 million; Houston at $11.6 million, down from $35 million; and San Diego at $139,837, down from $6.5 million.

Together with grants announced in July, the DHS has released $399 million this year to protect critical facilities such as chemical plants, rail systems, nuclear plants, dams and stadiums, up from $388 million in 2005. The grants came in the final week of the fiscal year. DHS leaders acknowledged that the delay hurt cities awaiting the money and vowed to move faster next year.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the increases were not intended to offset cuts of 40 percent made four months ago to New York and greater Washington, the two locations targeted in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He said that the grants to New York, Baltimore and other places were based not only on risk but also on the need for individual projects in each jurisdiction, and that they should not be regarded as an annual competition.

"Risk is not the entire story. What's also important is what is the need that is being satisfied," Chertoff said. "What we're trying to do is move away from looking at grants as if . . . every year it's a horse race. . . . If you want a horse race, you go to Pimlico."

The grants included $168 million for seaports, $13 million for commuter rail, bus, and ferry systems, and $9.5 million for bus companies. In July, the DHS awarded $123 million for transit systems; $48 million for critical infrastructure, such as water and electrical systems; $25 million for chemical plants; $7.2 million for Amtrak; and $4.8 million for trucking companies.

American Public Transportation Association spokeswoman Virginia Miller said the $13 million is helpful, but the industry has identified $6 billion in security needs.

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