Results of an annual survey of governors homeland security advisors, released during the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting this week, showed similar homeland security governance structures across states, evolving priorities as a result of current events like the H1N1 pandemic and concerns about sustaining security capabilities under current funding mechanisms.
The 2009 State Homeland Security Advisors Survey, which is in its sixth year, provides an overview of states' homeland security governance structures, strategies and priorities, as well as an examination of the evolving relationship between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and states in the areas of communications, intelligence sharing and coordination of efforts. Key findings of the 2009 survey include:
  • Pandemic influenza preparedness, which had fallen from the list of priorities in 2008, reemerged as a priority for the states as the H1N1 pandemic played out;
  • More than half of states have placed their homeland security operations within a broader cabinet-level department;
  • More than half of respondents have positioned their state's primary fusion center under the command of the homeland security director;
  • Communications from DHS to the states continued to improve in 2009;
  • A strong majority of respondents believe DHS should improve the grant allocation process and work with Congress to permanently restore allowable management and administration funding to 5 percent;
  • States are struggling to sustain their capabilities with the amount of grant funding that is available to them and are hoping for some relief from the administrative burdens that come with that funding.
"This year's survey tells us that state homeland security institutions and activities continue to evolve to address a dynamic set of security hazards and threats. In particular, states were pleased with the coordination and communication they had with their federal counterparts," said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center for Best Practices. "It's important for states to continue this progress and turn their attention to those issues, such as preparing the public, that still require significant attention."
The priorities identified by homeland security advisors echoed those of previous years and include coordinating the efforts of state and local agencies; developing interoperable communications for emergency responders; identifying and protecting critical infrastructure; exercises and simulations to improve preparedness; and strengthening citizen preparedness.
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