News Column

House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Hearing

April 29, 2014

If you support the proposal why? We do not support the National Preparedness Grants Program Proposal.

If you oppose the proposal why?

While it seems like a good idea to combine programs to increase efficiency and effectiveness, we are not sure this proposal does a good job of meeting local needs. On reflection, in recent years combined appropriations for UASI- Urban Areas Security Initiative and SHSGP- State Homeland Security Grants Program were proposed at 2,250,000,000; under the proposed streamlining of the national grants, those appropriations would be reduced to 1,043,200,000. A reduction of 1,206,800,000. The fluctuation in appropriations has negatively impacted Indianapolis in recent years as we have moved toward using sound business practices in our planning and day to day operations.

Following 9/11, many projects were started using grant funding from Homeland Security grants which helped us to advance current operations and develop capabilities to help us better prepare for a response incident. The funding granted enabled the start-up of the Fusion Center, enhanced our bomb response capabilities, allowed us to install a camera system throughout the City on critical infrastructure sites, and paid for staff to monitor those cameras.

When the City lost UASi funding in 2011 and in 2013 due to our THIRA ranking, we were left without the financial means to support operations. The loss of funding created a financial burden on a city that was already experiencing budget shortfalls due to a dwindling tax base and a struggling economy. Locally, we just could not sustain our operations and had to make some tough decisions in order to keep the most critical operations active. We also had to make some tough decisions regarding how we staffed our homeland security department and regional operations center. The camera system's maintenance agreement and software renewal was in question of happening in 2014 because of funding uncertainties until YR2014 UASi monies were announced. We are still pursuing other ways to sustain equipment purchased previously with grant funds in case we lose funding again.

In addition, the proposal has added the language that the State "will review and approve the proposed projects" on page 34. While the City has a good relationship with the State, one has to wonder how any future political climate could affect critical projects the City needs to complete if the State has to approve them. The proposal also seems to give the State more control over local projects just based on the required approval. This language is very similar to the previous grants program but adds the approval from the State.

The Metropolitan Statistical Analysis explains how we are evaluated. These new programs require us to manage the risk from significant threat and hazards to physical and cyber critical infrastructure utilizing an integrated approach across our diverse community:

* Identify, deter, detect, disrupt, and prepare for threats and hazards to the National Critical Infrastructure

* Reduce vulnerabilities of critical assets, systems and networks; and

* Mitigate the potential consequences to critical infrastructure of incidents or adverse events that do occur.

The success of this required integrated approach depends on leveraging the full spectrum of capabilities, expertise, and experience across the critical infrastructure community and associate stakeholders. However, when the City of Indianapolis goes one funded, the next year unfunded and the following year funded, truly makes it difficult to create a solid business plan with goals and objectives, The on and off years of funding limits our capability to Incorporate Resilience into Critical Infrastructure Projects and execute a Critical Infrastructure Risk Management Approach

Currently we only have 12 sites within the National Infrastructure Index within Indianapolis Urban Area. This does not include places like Eli Lilly's, Roche, Morse Reservoir, and JW Marriott, A level 1 and 2 critical infrastructure sites is now being evaluated by the Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center as part of the National Critical Infrastructure Prioritization Program.

To be a level 1 Site, the infrastructure has to meet at least two of the four:

* Greater than 5,000 prompt fatalities

* Greater than $75 billion in first year economic consequences

* Mass Evacuations with prolonged absence of greater than 3 months

* Severe degradation of the Nation's national security Capabilities

To meet level 2 criteria must meet 2 of the 4:

* Greater than 2,500 prompt fatalities

* Greater than $25 billion in first year economic consequences

* Mass Evacuations with prolonged absence of greater than 1 months

* Severe degradation of the Nation's national security Capabilities

Level 2 Catastrophic Economic Impact criteria allows Indianapolis to nominate infrastructure that, if disrupted, could result in greater than $50 billion in first year economic impacts. The convention business is not currently under this criterion as we don't know the first year impact and would it meet the $50 billion dollar impact.

What alternative reforms, if any would you suggest?

We would recommend more funding and the deletion of the approval from the State. Their review of the plan should be sufficient. In addition, it would be more efficient to award directly to the High Risk areas instead of having the State add a level of bureaucracy to the process. It also delays funding being made available to jurisdictions quickly. Our state tends to utilize funds equally throughout the state, without consideration to threat, risk, and vulnerability, so, having all funds in one will create less opportunities for Urban Areas for funding prevention, investigation, and mitigation.

A recommended change would be to have UASI setup similar to how Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are funded. Having the funds go through the state creates levels of bureaucracy. It also means the urban will not get the full funding allocated. The state takes 20% and takes additional funds for the Fusion Center, versus using State Homeland Security Grant Funds.

Are there any reforms that could be made to the current grants structure that would make it more efficient and better able to meet your needs?

The current system seems to work well. However, it would be more efficient to award directly to the High Risk Areas. This would eliminate a level of bureaucracy and would get funding to the local jurisdictions faster.

The THIRA process needs to be improved. UASI funding is disproportionate throughout the US based on rankings based on one report. There are some cities that rank higher than Indy and we just have to wonder whether or not the THIRA really assesses our threat level accurately. For example, Pittsburgh and Kansas City were ranked higher than Indy.

I am also interested in your perspective on how the Threat and Hazard identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) and Capability Estimation processes are working. Have the addition of these requirements helped you to better address your security needs? Integrated Picture of Risk. Risk management is one of the most underappreciated aspects of preparedness, but could be one of the most important. This is not specific to Indianapolis, but nationwide. Threats cannot be isolated into singular events, Rather, the full range of threats and hazards must be considered particularly how they relate to resource allocation, gap assessment, and planning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has enhanced the efforts to address risk through the Threat Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process. Local officials can not only participate in the larger THIRA process, but smaller-scale efforts could be utilized to assess and add more emphasis on special events, along with short and long term economic effects of an attack to natural disaster to the entire region.

Local Officials understand the risk picture, but the THIRA only attaches risk to specific events. While the THIRA can aid in assessing risk locally, such a process cannot be the sole prism through which risk is viewed. The vision must be broad and integrated so as to consider the full range of threats and hazards beyond singular events. This issue expands beyond event-specific challenges as well.

Indianapolis is known as the number one conference city in the United States. We must consider the amount of revenue and job creation the region receives, what would be the long term impact and recovery after an attack. How many conventions would consider changing locations. If conventions moved then how many jobs would that impact? We could possibly see a down turn that would not only affect the city, but also the entire region. Indianapolis has a lot of commuters that live in surrounding counties, if we seen a downturn and companies/hotels/restaurants closed, we then would start to see vacant housing the entire 9 county region.

Local police departments and their officers have played a crucial role in preventing acts of terrorism since 9/11. State and local police departments have been able to build and maintain capabilities through the 25% set-aside for law enforcement terrorism prevention activities. However, the National Preparedness Grant Program (NPGP) proposal would eliminate this 25% set-aside. How would this impact public safety in your jurisdiction?

The deletion of the 25 percent required law enforcement takes away for prevention and investigation requirements and first responders become responders only with very little funding for prevention initiatives and training.

According to NPGP documents and in FEMA response to Ranking Members Payne and my letter, the dedicated investment jurisdiction for the sustainment of fusion centers will be a policy decision left to the discretion of the Secretary. As we have seen in recent events and especially in the Boston Marathon bombing there is a lack of intelligence and information sharing between Federal law enforcement agencies and states and locals. I have visited my state's fusion center and have seen how these centers can play a role in mitigating this gap. Can you please how explain how you utilize your state's fusion center?

We, Indianapolis - Marion County provide the most support with Intel Operators (1-IMPD-lndianpolis Metropolitan Police Department, 1-IFD-indianapolis Fire Department, 2-MCSO-Marion County Sheriff's Office). We are also the highest users of the fusion center for day to day criminal investigative work. District officers and detectives call upon the fusion center several times a week for CLEAR Reports, BMV pictures and reports, other state and federal database request.

As part of the MET Table top exercise, I attached the summary that the Naval Postgraduate School put together. Within the document it talks about the fusion center being robust and supportive of information sharing. However, it also identified questions among multiple agencies who participated on the information sharing with the FBI JTTF.

The fusion center also provides us with a private sector liaison that works to share information and gain intelligence or information. This has shown to be success during the last table top with the Naval Postgraduate School and the Joint Counter Terrorism Awareness Table top completed in 2011.

The Fusion Center also provides us direct access with a US DHS Intel Officer that we work with weekly. The Intel Officer provides Bi-weekly secure briefings as part of the national information sharing and terrorist screening center reports for Indiana.

FOLLOW-UP: You have expressed how critical your state's center is to the state and local law enforcement officials, if the dedicated investment jurisdiction was eliminated, would the state be able to maintain the center and if not, how would this affect your operations?

This question would be hard to answer as we don't know if the state would maintain funding for the fusion center

Thank you for the opportunity to share testimony on the proposed National Preparedness Grants Program and we look forward to working with you to ensure all localities will be able to continue to enhance the safety and security and quality of life for residents and guests alike. Please do not hesitate to contact me at if you should require further information.

Read this original document at:

For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel

Source: Congressional Documents & Publications