Ridge outlines domestic security plan, promises mayors more money

Financial aid will soon be on the way to cities that need it for homeland defense missions, Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge told members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Wednesday morning. While Ridge did not specify how much money cities will get in the fiscal 2003 budget, he told the nation's mayors that it would not be a one-time deal. Future budgets will include similar allotments, he said. "On Sept. 11, America's mayors became a symbol of strength worldwide," Ridge told a room filled with mayors from hundreds of cities across the country. He was one of several government leaders invited to speak at the group's annual winter conference. President Bush will outline parts of his domestic security agenda Thursday in remarks to the group. "The President has asked me to develop a national strategy for homeland security, but I need you to help me do so. That theme of partnership is an important one as the President gets ready to announce the homeland security initiatives in this year's budget," Ridge said. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, municipalities have been asking for federal money to offset the costs of protecting their communities from future terrorist attacks. According to a new survey by the Conference of Mayors, cities will spend more than $2.6 billion on security by the end of 2002. "Tightening security in the aftermath of Sept. 11 threatens to break the bank for many city budgets," said New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, president of the group. "Mayors are on the frontlines in securing our cities and our homeland. We desperately need a partnership with the federal government to help address these growing security costs." In November Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., introduced the "Homeland Security Block Grant Act" (S. 1737), a bill that would authorize $3 billion in fiscal 2002 for targeted grants for training, communications and rescue equipment, and security measures at airports, waterways, utility plants, transit stations and other major components of urban infrastructure. The bill is awaiting action in the Judiciary Committee. Ridge promised to get federal money into local coffers as soon as possible, and said it would go toward bio-terrorism preparedness training; equipment to deal with hazardous materials and improve emergency communications; and the improvement of public health systems. "We are mindful of the need to get these dollars to you … so you can put them to use as soon as possible," he said. Ridge previewed the administration's homeland defense plan, saying it will not only help communities prevent terrorist attacks, but also foster better intergovernmental working relationships and improve communities. With the proposal, the White House will seek to couple homeland security with quality-of-life issues, he said. "In the process of making our cities more secure and safe, we will make them better, " he said. For example, Bush will propose so-called 'smart borders' to bolster security at gateways to the United States. But those borders also are intended to ease the flow of commerce to and from Mexico and Canada. "By building better borders, we enhance opportunities for growth," Ridge said. The administration's plan relies on "a new partnership" with states, counties and cities, officials said. "This isn't about what Washington wants anymore," said Ridge. Much of that new partnership would be based on improved flow of information and better coordination between federal and local officials. Ridge pointed to security measures put in place at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as a good example of how federal and local law enforcement agencies can work together. By changing "the old relationship" between federal and local officials, Ridge said, governments would be free to devise innovative ways to enhance security and improve quality of life.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.