By Danielle Dean
The National Homeland Security Consortium (NHSC) outlined its members' top priorities for 2017 during its recent conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., in which NCSL participated.
The NHSC is a coalition of state and local associations, elected officials and private sector partners that come together with the goal of enhancing homeland security by successfully preventing, preparing, responding to and recovering from emergencies.
Most important is effective communication, coordination and collaboration of all those responsible for the health and safety of the public. NHSC provides the forum to develop collective strategies, tactical partnerships and information sharing mechanisms. It also plays a key advisory role to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The conference began with a discussion of the consortium members’ top priorities and any administration briefings that have taken place. NHSC briefed the transition team on the 2016 NHSC National Issue Brief, which sets out the consortium’s concerns and issues to consider when looking at addressing emergency management issues.
The consortium aims to develop relationships beyond individual emergency response silos. The aimis to build capacity for response, provide an advisory role to federal agencies, and continue to show the benefits of sustained grant funding for state and local emergency response efforts.
Disaster assistance for states and localities will continue to be an area of discussion. NCSL is watching the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) supplemental advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to establish a state deductible on federal assistance during a state’s declaration of emergency.
The proposed rule would make reimbursement to states for repairs and replacements of damaged public infrastructure dependent on state investments in resiliency and preparation plans and infrastructure development. FEMA has outlined a conceptual deductible program, which gives insight into each state’s financial responsibility and an implementation description.
It is not a proposal, but rather a description of a direction FEMA could take in a future rulemaking, and it requests public feedback. This is NCSL’s formal response to the initial information request and more information on the proposal.
Cybersecurity will continue to be a top priority across the state associations and for NCSL. The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), a key partner in NCSL’s Cybersecurity Task Force, presented its new biannual report, "State Governments at Risk: Turning Strategy and Awareness into Progress," which came out late last year and discussed areas of persistent challenge on state government IT and success metrics.
Counterterrorism continues to be an area to examine best practices and challenges to preventing and responding to domestic terror-related incidents.
At the start of 2017, 31 local governments, universities and nonprofit organizations across the country will receive grants totaling $10 million dedicated to intervention, resiliency and capacity building for responding to and preventing radicalization activities. Some of the states and cities granted awards include Boston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Detroit, Nebraska, Houston, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and New York City.
Additionally, FEMA briefed the consortium on succession planning and the Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack Program Grant. The grant program is currently accepting applications, which are due Feb. 10. The goal is to provide additional funding to train and plan to close gaps in state and local resources by using simulated exercises on coordinated terrorist incidents. The cap on the individual awards is $2.5 million and regional partnerships are encouraged.
These issues are only a few of the topics of concern for homeland security organizations and officials, and we will continue to track legislation in the upcoming year and look forward to working with the incoming administration.
Danielle Dean is a policy specialist with NCSL's Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety Committee.