Where the Money Flows: Into Security Initiatives at All Levels
Government money is pouring into the security arena. President Bush has proposed more than $37.7 billion for Homeland Security in 2003, some of which he proposes should be spent to put 21st century technology to work securing the Homeland. Other initiatives that are part of the President’s budget include supporting first responders, defending against bioterrorism and securing America’s borders. The $37.7 billion spending allotment — up from $19.5 billion in 2002 — encompasses existing government institutions and systems that provide security, such as law enforcement, public safety, public health and emergency management.
The President’s proposal is part of an even bigger picture as government at all levels seeks to apply the resources necessary to meet an urgent national need.
In March, the federal Department of Transportation gave priority to seaports by funding a new Port Security Grants program to allot more than $93 million for security upgrades at seaports. The Maritime Association and the U.S. Coast Guard will administer the program. Later that month, DOT secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced $175 million in supplemental funds to 317 eligible airports to heighten airport security. Funds will help cover the costs of additional law enforcement personnel, airport surveillance and revalidation of airport-issued identification.
The Office of Homeland Security and the Office of Management and Budget are directing distribution of emergency funding among various federal departments and agencies, including the departments of Defense, Transportation and Justice, which will receive the highest percentages of overall funding at 22-, 20- and 19-percent, respectively. At the federal level, a $40 billion Emergency Response Fund was established to respond to the war on terrorism. According to Congress, that fund would be used to aid the reconstruction efforts in New York and Virginia, compensate victims, and strengthen defenses at home — giving approximately $10.6 billion towards Homeland Security. That money has allowed the federal government to increase the number of sky marshals, acquire medicine to combat anthrax or other bacterial infections, provide National Guardsmen at baggage screening checkpoints at 420 major airports, protect the nation’s ports from internal or external threats, help mail sorting facilities find and destroy potential biological agents, and above all, distribute more than $1 billion to states to strengthen their capacity to respond to bioterrorism and other public health related emergencies.
Additionally, in March, President Bush requested a $27 billion supplemental spending bill for Homeland Security. Of that funding, $5 billion will be spent securing airports and borders, $14 billion for defense, $5.5 billion for the state of New York, $5.3 billion for Homeland Security, $1.6 billion for international aid and $750 million will go to dislocated workers.
In January, Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) introduced legislation that would provide $400 million to fund security upgrades across the U.S. intercity bus or motorcoach industry. Under the provisions of the bill, grants would be administered by the Secretary of Transportation.
At the state level, according to the Security Industry Association (SIA), several state representatives are introducing bills that would allow for an increase in spending to cover security measures. Arizona HB 2002, an appropriations bill introduced by Rep. Laura Knaperek (R-27), would, among other things, provide more than $2 million for the state’s automated fingerprint identification fund. Likewise, Connecticut Rep. Antonietta “Toni” Boucher (R-143) introduced bill HB 5274, which appropriated $100,000 for the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the State Capitol and Legislative Office Building as part of increased security measures. Both bills were introduced in February.
Another issue is protection of our information infrastructure. Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to provide $800 million in grants over the next five years to colleges and other research groups to protect the nation’s computers against hackers and cyber-criminals. The bill creates new research and education grants at the National Science Foundations and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
But funding isn’t always easy to find, and state and local municipalities are fighting to protect the interests of their communities. At the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, officials met with President Bush to express their security needs for American’s cities. New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, who also serves as president of the conference, told President Bush and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge that [U.S. cities] “have borne the burden of these added security costs exclusively.” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and vice president of the conference called attention to the fact that, although cities are spending money to increase security, the costs are “drawing money away from other important programs.”
Although the President’s 2003 Budget — the federal government’s first proposed budget since Sept. 11 — provides necessary security allowances, it does not attempt to address the totality of the Homeland Security agenda — a task better saved for the National Strategy for Homeland Security and the Budget for 2004.