I write in response to your June 2nd editorial, “Bloated and Incompetent.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to protecting those American cities that face the greatest risk of a terrorist attack. With this commitment comes an understanding that risk is not limited to one or two major urban areas. Baseline preparedness is a national challenge which requires us to consider the wide spectrum of risk across the country. Simply put, we must be careful not to triple-bolt the front door while leaving the back and side doors vulnerable.
With this in mind, DHS understands that cities like New York and Washington present unique challenges and are at the top of the list when it comes to risk.
The assertion that New York City and Washington, D.C., received “enormous cuts” in their annual grant funding does not account for the smaller grant appropriation provided this year by Congress. It also fails to consider the entire history of the grant program in question.
For 2006, Congress appropriated nearly $600 million less for DHS’s grant programs than was provided last year. This includes approximately $125 million in cuts to the Urban Area Security Initiative alone.
Despite these cuts, both cities received a similar percentage of UASI funds as they have in years past. New York City received 18 percent of this year’s UASI funds, nearly matching their average of 19 percent. Similarly, Washington, D.C., received 7 percent, nearly matching their average of 8 percent. Since 2003, over $528 million has been provided to the New York City urban area through this program, while the Washington, D.C., region has received nearly $214 million.
The claim that no “national icons” were considered in the analysis for New York City fails to recognize that DHS purposely placed structures such as the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge into other categories where they would register higher risk-scores. In all, roughly 7,000 sites were part of the risk analysis for New York City.
While supporting communities like New York and Washington, DHS will also continue to invest our resources wisely to address the wide spectrum of risk across the entire country.
Under Secretary for Preparedness
Department of Homeland Security