their "Urban Area Security Initiative" grant program. In awarding grants directly to cities, NACo has argued that the department failed to recognize the ongoing collaboration between counties and cities in preparing, preventing and responding to a disaster.

Recently, the department announced it will again accept applications for an additional $700 million for the Urban Areas Security Initiative grant program. NACo encourages all counties with large metropolitan cities within their boundaries to apply directly to DHS for funding.

Streamlining applications for First Responder grants

Various grant programs dealing with homeland security were absorbed by the new department and many require a lot of the same information on their grant application forms. This issue has become a major concern to many counties and other local government officials across the nation. Citing these complaints by state, local and other first responder organizations, the Senate has urged DHS to streamline the various grant applications for state and local governments, and consolidate some of the existing plans that various federal agencies require from state and local government prior to receiving any funding for homeland security.

Ridge has said, "the department is working to eliminate duplicative requests for security plans," but stressed " the government needs those strategies to hold states and localities accountable for how they spend federal money." Ridge has also announced that the department is trying to make progress in building an Internet portal for grant applications and that he supports moving the Office of Domestic Preparedness into the department's State and Local Coordination Office.

NACo has encouraged DHS and Congress to distribute an equitable share of funding to both small and large local governments for their homeland security activities. "Counties across the nation have spent a great deal of funding to support ongoing counter terrorism activities in their community, and Congress must provide additional resources to support all local governments, not just large metropolitan areas " said Larry Naake, NACo executive director.

By Dalen A. Harris associate legislative director, NACo

From NACo, County News Headlines