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DHS awards $110 million on port security funding

(The American Association of Port Authorities issued the following on August 16.)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) hailed the announcement today from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that it has made available an additional $110 million in fiscal 2007 Port Security Grant funding. The money, to pay for security improvements in and around America's public ports, was part of a compromise Iraqi war appropriations supplemental bill that was signed into law last May.

"The additional $110 million will go a long way toward helping our nation's ports further enhance their facility security against terrorism," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA's president and CEO.

Currently, the Port Security Grant program divides eligible ports into four tiers, based on their perceived risk, with top tier ports receiving the lion's share of the available funds. According to DHS, changes in the way the grants are being distributed for the fiscal 2007 supplemental round will impact both Tier I and Tier II grant recipients. As part of DHS' plan to make the grants more regionally based, a set amount of funding is being provided for port areas in Tiers I and II (based proportionally on FY'07 risk analysis), with one "fiduciary agent" assigned to each port area, selected through its Area Maritime Security Committee process and the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port. Rather than individual facilities applying for funding as in the past, only the port area's fiduciary agent will be able to apply for the grant awards.

Because the grants must be made before the end of the federal fiscal year which ends Sept. 30, Tier I and Tier II port areas must establish a fiduciary agent quickly so they can apply for the available funds.

In Tiers I and II, allocated funds will be awarded through a Cooperative Agreement to allow a higher level of federal involvement in assisting port areas in the development and implementation of security plans. The fiduciary agent can use 20 percent of the funds-with no cost-share match required-to develop port Area-Wide Risk Management/Mitigation and Business Continuity Plans. The remaining 80 percent of the funds will be distributed to port facilities through the Cooperative Agreement in accordance with the port area's security plan. This allows private facilities to have only a 25 percent cost-share match, instead of the 50 percent match required in the previous two grant award rounds.

"For port areas listed in the third tier, additional projects that weren't funded in the last round of grants have been revisited and selected for $16.5 million in funding," said Susan Monteverde, AAPA's government relations vice president. "For ports in Tier IV, DHS is accepting applications, but it is limiting port facilities to apply for only one new project each."

AAPA's President Nagle said that given the high costs of enhancing facility security at America's seaports, federal support is still very much needed to help ports pay for access control systems, personnel training, waterside security and interoperable communications, as well as the costly facility requirements related to implementing the new Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

"The Port Security Grant program is an essential component for helping our nation's seaports remain safe and secure, and it must be appropriately funded for this to happen," he said.

The American Association of Port Authorities was founded in 1912 and today represents 160 of the leading public port authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, the Association represents 300 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in the seaports of the Western Hemisphere. AAPA port members are public entities mandated by law to serve public purposes. Port authorities facilitate waterborne commerce and contribute to local, regional and national economic growth.

Friday, August 17, 2007

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