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DHS announces $202 million in awards to 183 ports

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is awarding $202,269,793 in federal grants to help ...

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is awarding $202,269,793 in federal grants to help 183 public and private entities improve security in and around port facilities.

Congress appropriated $210 million for the Port Facility Grant program in fiscal year 2007, although $1.4 million was moved to the Ferry Security Grant program and three percent was allowed for administrative purposes.

As in previous years, the funds will be distributed based on a prioritization of risk, although this year the program separated ports into four risk tiers and pre-assigned funds for Tier I port areas, which received 60 percent of the funds. Unlike the last two rounds, all port areas were eligible to apply, a priority of AAPAs that was included in last years SAFE Port Act. The preallocation of funds for Tier I ports resulted in a limit on the amount of funds and projects applied for.

Like last year, all entities receiving Fiscal 2007 Port Security Grant awards will pay a cost-share amount to participate. Public entities, such as seaport authorities and state and local governments, must pay 25 percent, while private entities, such as sightseeing cruise and petroleum terminals, will have to pay 50 percent.

The security grants will not only assist marine facilities in paying for things like landside surveillance, access controls, interoperable communications and systems to prevent and detect improvised explosive device attacks, but will also provide funds to pay for training as well as technology and equipment to test and install Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card readers for facilities.

This is the seventh time that the federal government has released Port Security Grant funds since initiating the program after Sept. 11, 2001. Ports areas have received a total of only $1.1 billion, including $75 million from DHS Urban Area Security Initiative program since the program began.

According to AAPA President/CEO Kurt Nagle, more annual appropriations are needed, particularly with facilities facing the extraordinary costs of implementing the TWIC program.

We believe a stronger federal partnership is necessary to help our public ports balance the pressure of competing priorities, such as infrastructure development, environmental initiatives, access improvements and promoting economic growth, said. Nagle.

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