In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, the state of Massachusetts, the city of Boston and federal authorities quickly joined together to respond to the emergency. But in recent years, federal funding for state homeland security efforts to respond to emergencies has been gutted.
Federal grant spending on state and local homeland security is at an all-time low. The largest Department of Homeland Security formula grant program for states went from a high of $2 billion in 2003 to just $294 million in 2012. And with the sequester, grants from the state homeland security grant program will drop at least another 5 percent.
The grants are intended to help states purchase equipment and create plans for responding and recovering from terrorist attacks or other catastrophes.
In Massachusetts, funding from the state homeland security grant program is down 76 percent in the last five years, to $4 million in fiscal 2012, according to Federal Funds Information for States. The state ranked 34th in per capita spending in homeland security grant funding, at $1.20 per person.
Not only is the overall funding down, but domestic attention has not been placed on responding to bomb threats, said Ben Bawden, a government affairs consultant representing state and local public safety organizations, including the National Fusion Center Association and the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies. Bombing has traditionally been an overseas concern, said Bawden, and state and local agencies aren’t getting training on how to respond to bomb emergencies.
Wikimedia Commons photograph originally posted to Flickr of the Boston Marathon explosions, April 15, 2013