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Structuring Homeland Security Grants: Florida’s Local Finance Officials Evaluate the Funding Process

PFM, Vol. 7 No. 2, (2007)

Homeland security preparedness is largely a local government activity. A fall 2005 survey of Florida city and county finance/budget officials evaluates the fairness and adequacy of available federal and state homeland security funding from a local government perspective. Local officials were asked to evaluate federal and state funding allocations, competing approaches to the distribution of homeland security grant funding, the balance between response and prevention funding, and various approaches to intergovernmental organization for emergency management activities. We find that finance officials from small counties and cities are more likely than their larger counterparts to indicate a need for greater access to federal funding; but city officials from all sizes of jurisdictions are more likely than their county counterparts to report an interest in greater state funding. There is general consensus among small and large cities and counties that both population and risk-based factors should guide federal funding decisions, but city officials are more divided regarding this issue. Most of Florida’s finance officials report satisfaction with the balance of prevention versus response grant offerings, but many would like to see more monies earmarked specifically for response activities. As to the best intergovernmental approach to emergency management, Florida’s local officials are divided. Many see value in an approach that emphasizes either a predominantly local or state organizational structure, but they are in agreement that they do not want a centralized top-down federal structure. We find that the intergovernmental dynamics present in homeland security grant funding are the same as in previous grants-in-aid—even in the state ranked as the most prepared in the nation

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