Office of Justice Programs
State and Local Domestic Preparedness Grant Programs

Report No. 02-15
March 2002
Office of the Inspector General



In its Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 Performance Report and FY 2002 Performance Plan, the Department of Justice (Department) recognized that the United States Government would never be able to prevent all acts of terrorism. Thus, the Department decided to focus on developing "maximum feasible capacity" - i.e., doing everything within its power to counter terrorist threats and minimize terrorist damage. This focus, which evolved in the wake of terrorist acts in the 1990's such as bombings of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, is crucial in light of the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

On July 15, 1996, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13010 establishing the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection (Commission). The Commission was chartered to conduct a comprehensive review and recommend a national policy for protecting critical infrastructures and assuring their continued operation. In its October 1997 report, "Critical Foundations - Protecting America's Infrastructure," the Commission recognized that "…emergency services are generally ill-prepared to deal with chemical and biological attacks. Few 'First Responders' - fire fighters, police, and paramedics - are adequately trained to treat attack victims. Protective gear for first responders and equipment for decontamination are available but costly. Medical treatments, such as atropine, are in limited supply." Consequently, the Commission recommended that first responders receive additional equipment and training to identify, detect, and manage Weapons of Mass Destruction incidents.

Legislation supporting the Department's anti-terrorism efforts began with the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (Act) of 1996, which authorized: (1) the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to undertake the Metropolitan Firefighter and Emergency Medical Services Program, (2) the expenditure of the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program funds for counter-terrorism purposes, and (3) the National Institute of Justice to undertake research and development in technologies to be used in counter-terrorism efforts. Pursuant to the Act the Attorney General was tasked to work in consultation with the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make grants to provide specialized training and equipment to enhance the capability of metropolitan fire and emergency service departments to respond to terrorist attacks. The Department's appropriations for FY 1998 provided $12 million for the OJP to initiate assistance program for local responders.

In April 1998, the Attorney General delegated authority to the OJP to provide grants to help state and local police and fire departments prepare for and respond to terrorist incidents. The Assistant Attorney General, OJP, subsequently established the Office for State and Local Domestic Preparedness Support (ODP) within OJP.2

The mission of the ODP is to develop and implement a national program to enhance the capability of state and local agencies to respond to domestic terrorism. The grants fund training and help purchase specialized equipment to respond to domestic terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction such as chemicals, biological agents, and radiological and explosive devices.

The ODP is organized along the following five functional areas: Office of the Director, State and Local Program Management Division, Training and Technical Assistance Division, Exercise Division, and The Center for Domestic Preparedness. A description of each area follows:

In October 1998, Congress directed the Attorney General to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the capabilities of state and local emergency response agencies to respond to incidents of domestic terrorism. The House report, which accompanied the Justice Department's Fiscal Year 1999 Appropriations Act, required the OJP to examine the requirements of state and local agencies to respond to incidents involving chemical and biological agents, radiological, nuclear, and explosive devices, and other Weapons of Mass Destruction.

In June 1999, the ODP issued the Phase I report of its study of state and local needs to respond to domestic terrorism involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. The report reviews prior needs assessments and related efforts regarding state and local preparedness for Weapons of Mass Destruction incidents.

In December 1999, the ODP issued the Phase II report of its study. This report was a more comprehensive and complete assessment that collected information from a demographically and geographically diverse set of communities and a greater variety of first responders. The studies indicated that each jurisdiction required an individual program to address its needs that, public health agencies must be incorporated into any preparedness program, and that basic familiarity with Weapons of Mass Destruction was needed to understand the importance of an integrated response.

By the end of fiscal year (FY) 2001, the ODP had awarded grants totaling about $151 million3 to cities, counties, and states, and for other activities to support the national domestic preparedness program. At the time, the ODP had spent about $8 million in operating costs, including the cost of site visits to grantees. Operating costs represented about 5.3 percent of total program costs.

The Department's FY 2000 - FY 2005 Strategic Plan includes the following strategy: "Ensure domestic preparedness through training, assistance, and operational support." The Department's primary program for implementing this strategy is administered by OJP through the ODP. Through a combination of federally funded training and technical assistance, equipment acquisition grants, and support for state and local exercise planning, the ODP's intent is to enhance the ability of state and local jurisdictions to mitigate the consequences of domestic terrorism.

Domestic Preparedness Grant Programs

The ODP has developed the following domestic preparedness grant programs to further its mission:

State and Local Domestic Preparedness Equipment Support Program (SLDPESP). Pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the Department worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide training and equipment grants to help metropolitan fire and emergency service departments respond to terrorist attacks. In FY 1998, Congress appropriated $12 million for grants to state and local governments to acquire personal protective gear, chemical/biological detection equipment, decontamination facilities, and communications devices. The Attorney General delegated grant management to OJP, which established the ODP to administer the program. The Attorney General also assigned OJP the responsibility for coordinating course training and curriculum development. The OJP targeted the nation's 120 largest metropolitan jurisdictions that were eligible to apply for funding. During its first year, however, program funds were sufficient to permit grants to only 41 jurisdictions, which OJP selected according to its assessment of the grantees' vulnerability to terrorist attack.

County and Municipal Agency Domestic Preparedness Equipment Support Program. Under this program, OJP, in coordination with the National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO)4 (part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)), provided funds to targeted jurisdictions for equipment purchases to improve their ability to respond to terrorist incidents. Beginning in FY 1998, the OJP initiated a limited equipment acquisition program that formed the basis for this equipment program. In addition to the $12 million funded for the SLDPESP above, grants totaling about $31 million were awarded through June 2001 to 156 of the nation's largest metropolitan jurisdictions. As part of OJP's first responder5 domestic preparedness initiative, a FY 1999 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act provided additional funding to assist state and local first responders. Congress authorized OJP to distribute FY 1999 funding to provide the maximum number of communities with a basic defensive capability to respond to domestic terrorism.

FY 1999 State Domestic Preparedness Equipment Program. Similar to FY 1998's SLDPESP, this program provided funding for communication devices, personal protective gear, decontamination facilities, and chemical, biological, and radiological detection equipment. However, unlike the SLDPESP, these grants were to be awarded to a state-level administrative agency in each of the 50 states. Receipt of funds was contingent on a state's submission of a needs assessment and a 3-year statewide domestic preparedness strategy (strategy). The needs assessment required each state to assess its equipment needs, first responder training, and other resources to respond to the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The needs assessment formed the basis of the strategy, which identified how each state would target grant funds received, and also provided OJP with information on how to target first responder training and other resources available through the ODP over the next 3 years. Congress appropriated about $51.8 million for states under this program: $8 million to support state planning efforts and $43.8 million to support equipment purchases.

FY 2000 State Domestic Preparedness Equipment Program. Under this program, OJP, in coordination with the FBI's NDPO, provides financial assistance directly to states. Congress appropriated about $72.5 million for states under this program: about $700,000 to support state planning efforts and $71.8 million to support equipment purchases. This program also provides assistance to the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Receipt of program funds is contingent upon the submission of a grant application and the development of a needs assessment and a two-year strategy.

Training Sources

The National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (consortium) assists the OJP and ODP in the development, implementation, and delivery of training and situational exercises for emergency first responders. The consortium also assists in providing technical assistance to guide, advise, and share expertise and information required to make critical threat assessments and response planning decisions at the local responder levels. The consortium was formally organized on June 11, 1998. The following is a brief description of the consortium members and the types of training they provide:

Prior Related Audit Reports and Congressional Testimony

The General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a letter report, GAO/NSIAD-99-3, on November 12, 1998, entitled Combating Terrorism: Opportunities To Improve Domestic Preparedness Program Focus and Efficiency. The report, which focused on assistance provided by the Department of Defense (DOD) to local agencies, indicated that DOD's assistance was well received by local agencies, but that anti-terrorism efforts overall were fragmented and could be made more efficient.

The GAO issued a second letter report, GAO/NSIAD-00-64, on March 21, 2000, entitled Combating Terrorism: Need to Eliminate Duplicate Federal Weapons of Mass Destruction Training. The report focused on federal providers, coordination of training, and ways to improve the federal government's role in training to respond to Weapons of Mass Destruction. Similar to findings in its 1998 report, GAO indicated that training programs were not well coordinated. In response to requests from the first responder community, the Department established the National Domestic Preparedness Office, which provides an interagency forum for coordinating federal assistance to state and local emergency responders.

GAO officials testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Emergency Management on April 6, 2000, that a major deficiency in federal efforts to combat terrorism was the lack of linkage between the terrorist threat, a national strategy, and agency resources. The GAO stated that the multitude of federal assistance programs had led to confusion on the part of state and local officials. However, the GAO stated that the National Domestic Preparedness Office was designed to provide "one stop shopping" to state and local officials who needed assistance.

  1. The Office for State and Local Domestic Preparedness Support was later renamed the Office for Domestic Preparedness.
  2. In addition to the $149 million awarded for equipment and training, this amount includes funding for additional activities such as technical assistance programs, local fire and emergency services training, and the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici preparedness program.
  3. The NDPO coordinates federal government Weapons of Mass Destruction preparedness efforts aimed at enhancing state and local first responder capacity.
  4. First responders are firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical services, hazardous materials personnel, emergency managers, public health personnel, public works personnel and potentially many other officials.