Mayors' Third Survey on Homeland Security Funding Shows Half of Cities Still Await Funds
July 12, 2004
More than half the cities surveyed in June by The United States Conference of Mayors report that they have not yet received any funds, nor been notified that they would, through the Federal First Responder/Critical Infrastructure program. This program is the largest of the federal homeland security initiatives designed to support local first responders in cities.
The mayors' third report to the nation on the flow of the homeland security funds through the states to the cities, released June 25 in Boston at the start of the 72nd Annual Conference of Mayors, found that by the end of May, just under one-fourth of the 231 cities surveyed had received Fiscal Year 2003 funds under this program, and just under one-fourth had been informed that they would. The 52 percent reporting that they had not received funding represented about the same percentage of survey cities reporting this in the mayors' first national survey, which was released l0 months earlier.
Under the State Domestic Preparedness Funding program, another major federal initiative, the survey found that more than half of the cities had received Fiscal Year 2003 funds and another 26 percent had been told that they would. The 23 percent saying they had neither received nor been told that they would receive funds represented the same percentage reporting this five months earlier in the Conference's second survey.
The series of 50-state surveys conducted by the Conference of Mayors examines the flow of federal funding through ten separate programs. In releasing the survey report in Boston, Elizabeth (NJ) Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, Chair of the Conference's Criminal and Social Justice Committee, said "The key question for all of us today is simply whether, five months later, the situation in our cities has improved whether the system for distributing federal homeland security funds through the states is serving us better. The answer to this question is pretty much the same as it was five months ago: we are seeing some progress in some areas, little or no progress in others."
The Conference surveys also assessed whether local officials felt they had been given an adequate opportunity to influence their states in regard to how the federal homeland security funds can be used in their cities. For the Federal First Responder program, 52 percent of the survey cities said they had not gotten an adequate opportunity to do this; for the State Domestic Preparedness program, 44 percent said they had not gotten this opportunity. Both were an improvement over earlier survey findings. "Looking across the three surveys, we have more officials saying they have been given an opportunity to influence how their homeland security funds can be used. The trend here is in the right direction, but the percentage of city officials who still haven't been given this opportunity remains far too high," Bollwage said.
Conference Vice President Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic, reported that the organization would be working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Congress to implement recommendations on improving the flow of homeland security funds released just a few days earlier by the Task Force on State and Local Homeland Security Funding which DHS Secretary Tom Ridge created in March. Plusquellic served as the Vice Chair of this group and other members of the Conference leadership President James Garner of Hempstead; Advisory Board Chair Beverly O'Neill of Long Beach, and Bollwage were also members.