The NCSL Blog

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By Susan Parnas Frederick

Alejandro Mayorkas, the new Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the creation of eight grant programs totaling $1.87 billion. Their purpose? To “assist our state and local partners in building and sustain capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other disasters.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasMayorkas, left, stated that while we must protect our country from foreign terrorists, we must also protect against acts of domestic terrorism and adequate funding must be available from the federal government to do so.

For the first time, DHS has named domestic terrorism as a National Priority Area for the 2021 State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). The SHSP grant supports the implementation of risk-driven, capabilities-based state homeland security strategies. The UASI grant program provides funding to enhance regional preparedness and capabilities in thirty-one high-threat, high-density areas.

DHS announced that there will be additional funding designated to combat cybersecurity threats to state and local systems. A percentage of SHSP and UASI grant monies received is required to be spent on cybersecurity risk assessments, strengthening “dot.gov” internet domains, conduct training, and improve cybersecurity infrastructure.

The DHS statement allocates $415 million for the SHSP program and $615 million for the UASI program for FY2021 Under these grant programs, DHS has identified five cybersecurity “priority areas” where grant money can be spent. Those priority areas are soft target and crowded places, information and intelligence sharing, domestic violent extremism, and emerging threats. These grant programs require a percentage of grant money received to be spent on combatting domestic violent extremism and cybersecurity.

DHS is also recommending $355 million in Emergency Management Performance Grants to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial governments in enhancing and sustaining emergency management capabilities.

Susan Parnas Frederick is NCSL's senior federal affairs counsel in NCSL's State-Federal Relations Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.