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Remarks by Secretary Napolitano on Final Preparedness Grant Allocations for FY 2009

Release Date: 
April 10, 2009

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010
Washington, D.C.

Secretary Napolitano: Thank you very much.

Secretary Napolitano: Thank you and good morning, everybody. Thank you, Joe, for the introduction. We are here to announce the final allocations for the first round of fiscal year 2009 preparedness grants totaling nearly $970 million. This round of grants consists of ten programs, ranging from transit and port security, to trucking and rail security, to emergency communications and operations centers.

The purpose of these grants is to improve our readiness to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. Now, every community has some level of risk. So with these grants, we want to help create a base level of protection against all hazards, whether acts of man or of nature. We also want to counter the most likely risks and the most widespread potential impacts.

For these reasons, most of these grants are risk-based, with the bulk of resources targeted to the areas of highest risk and highest impact. Union Station, where we are today, is an excellent example of how these grants have been used to help protect critical transportation infrastructure. Thousands of commuters rely on Union Station every day. The grants have been used to train and deploy canine teams, as those we see here and we're going to have demonstrated in just a moment, to screen baggage for bombs and explosives, to provide a more visible law enforcement presence, and to supplement state and local efforts.

Now, critical to our efforts with respect to these grants is the involvement of state and local involvement of private sector partners. They know their cities and communities best, and the kinds of capabilities they need to protect them. This year's grants also reflect a more active engagement of the state and local officials and emergency managers, among others. They have been involved in all phases of grant process. And the grants focus on building strategic planning capabilities and measuring performance. We want to make sure that these precious dollars are used in the best possible way.

So to this end, FEMA has launched a Cost-to-Capability initiative to help us better analyze the impact of these grants and to plan for grants in the future. We've also continued to streamline the grant process. All of our grant programs now reside in a single office within FEMA, and we have worked to streamline grant guidance and outreach to make it easier for cities and towns and tribes and states to apply for and receive grants for capabilities that they need.

Let me, if I might, just give you a brief overview of some of the grant programs. This year, as I said, this particular award is just about $970 million. Now, this brings the total Department of Homeland Security investment to over $26.7 billion since fiscal year ’03. Specific allocations in ’09 include $388.6 million for transit security. In transit, we also have additional monies for freight rail security and intercity passenger rail. That's you. That's Amtrak—$25 million for Amtrak. We also have monies for intercity bus and for trucking. And these grants have monies for port security and for buffer zone protection. Buffer zones are areas around critical infrastructure sites and key resources, such as medical facilities and nuclear power plants.

In these grants are funds for Emergency Operations Centers. These are—these EOCs are in cities and states around our country. When we have a major incident, like the flooding in North Dakota or the ice storm in Kentucky that we recently had, all of the resources ultimately get operated out of those EOCs. And those are the prime source for making sure we have coordinated, effective disaster response.

In addition, we have monies in here for interoperability emergency communications grants. Interoperability, of course, has been a major undertaking of first responders in this country. These grants are designed for planning, training, exercises, and equipment, and will help us take one more step toward our goal of having truly interoperable communications nationwide. There are monies in here as well for states for the purposes of securing driver's licenses.

Now, these monies, the $970 million, they do not include monies that were recently included in the stimulus package. In particular, in the stimulus package there's $150 million additional for transit security and $150 million additional for port security. Now, we're in the process of competing those monies out, and we anticipate that they will be awarded by early this fall.

So we continue to work, to streamline, to work with our partners. And if I might, let me close with just one message.

Safety and security from a prevention and recovery standpoint cannot just be the job of one federal department. The Department of Homeland Security has an important leadership and coordination role. We work with all aspects of the private sector. We work with cities and towns and tribes and states across this country. Indeed, every individual has a role to play in the safety and security of our homeland. And so, as we give out or distribute these grant monies, we do it with a very real sense of partnership that has to underlie a network of safety and security that embraces our function.

So with that, let me stop. What we're going to do now is a demonstration with the canines. And then I'll come back to the mike and take a few questions. So canines, I think we're over here.

[Canine explosives detection demonstration performed]

Secretary Napolitano: Thank you very much. And thank you to the handler and to the dog. One of the things I've actually seen on this job in a way I hadn't seen it in my prior posts was the role of canines, not only within a transit environment like Union Station but also at our ports, and not just for drugs but also for explosives, for guns, and for cash. They can be trained to sniff out all those things.

So one of the things we're doing, for example, at the Southwest border as part of our southbound strategy is moving more dogs to the southbound border to do similar exercises with vehicles that are going south. But as you can see here, these K-9 teams are one of the things that are being funded through the grant programs, the grant awards we're announcing today.

So let me, if I might, stop, say thank you once again to all of the people here who are involved with our security on a day-in/day-out basis, and I'll be happy to take a couple of questions.

Question: Madam Secretary, immigration interior enforcement, have there been any changes in worksite enforcement, employee enforcement? Any delays or halting any kind of worksite raids? What can you say about that?

Secretary Napolitano: No. There have been no changes in the sense of worksite enforcement. There is new guidance that is going to be going out to the field any day now with respect to the focus of worksite enforcement. So we'll get those to you.

Question: What's the guidance? How will it change the focus?

Secretary Napolitano: It needs to get out to the field before it gets to the press, and it hasn't gone to the field yet.

Yes?

Question: Madam Secretary, can you comment on this report in the Wall Street Journal today? Is it true that cyber‑spies, possibly China and Russia, have compromised the U.S. electrical grid, placing software tools that could be activated to do harm?

Secretary Napolitano: Yeah, a couple of points on that. You're talking about the Wall Street Journal story? First of all, the whole issue of cyber—of protection of our infrastructure from cyber-attack is a keen concern to many of us. Indeed, I think that's why the President initiated a 60‑day review of all of the efforts that are ongoing with respect to cyber-security.

The fact of the matter is—is that industry, particularly the utility industry, works all the time to detect cyber intrusions and to mitigate their impact. And as you know, the grid is the function of utilities, not the government. But we work with them. They're one of our obviously critical infrastructure pieces that we work with in terms of assisting in detection and mitigation of any intrusion.

And so there have been, to my knowledge, no disruptions of power on any grid caused by a deliberate cyber-attack on our—on our infrastructure, on the grid. Nonetheless, we remain in constant protection/prevention/education/resiliency mode, and we work with the utility sector in particular on that. There are some specific—some specific programs which have very long acronyms which I will not share with you, but we can give you later if you want to know what some of the specific programs are that work with the utility sector.

And again, our role—and I think a reminder of that story is that we have issues of security all around us, and all of us have a role to play; and particularly when it comes to critical infrastructure like the grid, to make sure that they remain safe and protected from intentional cyber-attack, or if such an attack were ever to succeed, that there's the ability for quick detection, mitigation, and recovery. And that's our goal in working with the utility sector.

Question: Madam Secretary, the Wall Street Journal article did not say that there had been disruptions caused by this. But what it did say was that cyber-spies had penetrated the electrical grid and left behind software programs that were capable of disrupting the system or part of the system. Is that true?

Secretary Napolitano: You know, I don't think it's appropriate for me to confirm that one way or the other. But what I can say is that the vulnerability has been something that the Department of Homeland Security and the energy sector have known about for years. So I can confirm the vulnerability.

Yes?

Question: Can you talk at all about how the review of Guantanamo Bay detainees is going in terms of is it moving rapidly? Is it moving slower than you expected?

Secretary Napolitano: Yeah. The review of Guantanamo Bay detainees is being led out of the Department of Justice by a group led by the Attorney General. It's ongoing, and it is—they have a schedule. And as far as I know, they are proceeding according to schedule. They have not yet made specific recommendations on particular inmates, but they have a process now by which they are very thoroughly reviewing every inmate's file.

Yes?

Question: Madam Secretary, is there a process by which the utilities inform you of suspected intruders? Are you in that close touch, and have you been—have you been notified of anything like that by the industry?

Secretary Napolitano: We have an ongoing relationship with the energy sector, with several—in fact, a number of programs in our infrastructure protection area. Have I personally received notice of a power disruption caused by an intentional cyber-attack on our grid? No.

Question: [Inaudible] rather than disruption?

Secretary Napolitano: Again, I don't want to comment on things, on all of those things. I will say, however, we acknowledge, and I think we all must, and common sense tells us, that in this world, an increasingly cyber world, these are increasing risks. That's why the President has directed a type of review and is really looking at what we do to protect our infrastructure from cyber‑attack.

Over here.Yes, please?

Question: Can you explain in the trucking security program, with all the news coming from Southwest, the Southwest region of the border, it seems that not all of the fund have been allocated in the trucking security program, a little over $2 million of the $7 million originally allocated toward that. Why is that?

Secretary Napolitano: Because we weren't satisfied that the applications were the standard they need to be. We're not just going to give out money because somebody submitted an application. They have to be of such a level that we're satisfied the money is going to be well spent. So we held that money back and said, look, you know. We need to see some—we need to see a better application more closely tied to a security result. And so that money is—it's not going away; it's just we're not going to award it yet because we didn't feel like we had enough applications that met our criteria.

Question: Just to quickly follow up, how did, you know, border states such as Texas and Arizona play into a lot of this grant money? Was that taken into consideration when you reviewed the applications?

Secretary Napolitano: Not in the—I don't think in the way that your question implies. But we do take into consideration risk, and border is a—is a risk. But I think your question implies, did they get more just because they're on the border, and the answer would be no. There are other things we're enhancing resources on the border. Okay?

Other questions. Yes?

Question: I'm going to take one more stab at the electric grid.

Secretary Napolitano: Well, does anybody—before I go back, let me see if anybody else has a question before you get a go-back. Do we let him have a go-back? Oh, wait. You had a go-back, too.

Question: It's related to the grants.

Secretary Napolitano: Okay. I'll do three more questions, one, two, three. Okay. One?

Question: Is there—is there any more reason for the public to be concerned about the security of like the grid and perhaps the intrusion of cyber-spies now than there was a year ago? Has anything been brought to your attention about the possible—the possible inclusion of software that could disrupt the system?

Secretary Napolitano: Look. In answer to your question, we've known about this vulnerability for several years and are working with the energy sector to prevent, to mitigate, and now—and to look at what would happen if such an attack were to actually succeed. And we have had no denial of service, of utility service, to American citizens on the homeland because of intentional cyber-attack.

Now, we need to constantly be ready. The theme of the Department of Homeland Security is not to be in a constant state of fear, but a constant state of readiness. That's our theme. So can we continue to work to enhance efforts within critical infrastructure like the utility grid? Yes. Are we continuously looking for ways to enhance and educate fixed price the prevention and the—and protection of the cyber world? Absolutely. Is this a priority of the President's and of all of us who are involved with safety and security? You bet.

Question: The first goal listed under the driver's license security grant program is to prevent terrorism. Can you talk at all about the link or the concerns about driver's licenses and how it relates to terrorism?

Secretary Napolitano: Yes. Well, the whole issue of driver's licenses is they now have become such a common form of common accepted identification for all kinds of reasons other than driving. And so obviously that has a link to those who are lawfully in the country and those who are not. I will tell you, however, that we are working with the governors and with the Hill on re‑looking at REAL ID, which was the name of the driver's license bill that passed, as to ways that it could be more effectively and more cheaply accomplished, the goals like that that we have.

There was one last one.

Question: Why have we gotten new guidance, guidance now, on the situation of enforcement [inaudible] or enforcement raids?

Secretary Napolitano: Because we want the field to be clear on the worksite that we want to do. And we want to make sure that as we do worksite enforcement, that we don't limit ourselves simply to picking up illegal workers, that we are really building cases against employers, criminal cases against employers who are intentionally using illegal labor and exploiting illegal labor in their efforts. And I want to make sure that the field knows that the direction we want to go is the human traffickers and the employers in addition to other work that we're doing.

Question: Is that not being done now?

Secretary Napolitano: Again, it's a matter of clarifying and refocusing for the field what the priorities ought to be. And we're doing that, Tom, in a number of areas, not just this one. This one just happens to have received a little bit more press attention. But as a new secretary coming in with—and really surveying the area from the vantage point I've had as a governor, a U.S. attorney, and an attorney general, really taking some of the things we've been doing and saying, all right, let's take—let's take another look. Let's refocus. Let's go where we think we'll have the biggest impact. And that's exactly what we're doing.

Okay. Thank you all very much.

Mr. Boardman: Appreciate you coming today.

Secretary Napolitano: Thanks very much. You bet.

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