As an inaugural blog I figured I’d update everyone on where things are at with the AFG-related programs:
- 2008 AFG – no that’s not a typo, they’re still working on 2008 awards. A problem was found with the computer scoring from 2008 so DHS went back and ran the applications that should have been read back through the Peer Review from 2009 AFG in July. Basically Round 38 and on were all “corrected” awards from 2008. As of right now there are still some announcements to be made but the exact number and amount of funding isn’t specific.
- 2009 AFG – because of the above issue there were 3,000 applications that didn’t get read in July during the scheduled Peer Review so another one was held in September to finish these off. Toss in the Station Construction Grants and we have a case of not enough hands to administer everything at once, so the first round of 2009 AFG Award announcements is now looking to be near the end of November with pre-award movement starting at any time before that. Move quickly if you get any requests for information from DHS so that you can get your award through the process that much sooner.
- 2009 FP&S – this one just concluded 2 weeks ago, and Peer Review is happening right now in the first week of November. With the other backups these awards will probably not start moving until closer to February.
- 2009 SAFER – the application period announcement was just made on Friday that it will be open from November 16th at 8am EST through 5pm EST on December 18th. There have been several changes made that have delayed this program, including the ones allowing applicants to hire for currently vacant positions or rehire positions that were laid off because of the economy. This was not allowed in the past so the Program Guidelines and the application itself had to be re-written to reflect the PG. Also included was a waiver of the first 2 years of matching funds (the 10% and 20% local match years) and a change to a 3 year program for new hires with the last year funded locally at 100%. This is different from the former 5 year program of increasing local match. The re-hiring of laid off firefighters has also been allowed provided the layoffs occurred between January 1st, 2008 and October 31st, 2009. Applying here is 2 years of 100% federal money, no 3rd year required, no match required at all. Be careful on both of these because the application still requires departments to answer how they will fund these positions after the federal money ends.
- 2010 AFG – even though 2009 is backed up in the usual announcement timeline DHS still plans to have the application period back in the March or April range. This means that once they start moving on 2009 the awards and denials will come hard and fast. The time is now to make plans for this application. After all there are only 3 results you can have to your application: funded, denied by computer scoring, denied after going through the Review Panel. In other words since we know the only 3 possible scenarios with 1 definitely meaning that you need a new project there is no reason you can’t start figuring out what to apply for right now.
Many of you may have seen the reports that the Congressional Committee that oversees AFG has voted to extend the program beyond 2010. Per the current law AFG expires after the 2010 application period for all 3 programs (AFG, FP&S, SAFER), so unless this passes the full Congress we’re out of a huge opportunity for funding. Thanks to the efforts of our national organizations some improvements have been recommended the greatest of which is of course increasing the funding level to $1 billion for AFG, and nearly $1.2 billion for SAFER. Personally I’d like to see a little shaved off of each of those for a continuation of the Station Construction Grants. I’d love to see that get additional funding above and beyond those recommended funding levels, but I’m a realist. Things go in baby steps so at least if we can get the program renewed with any funding level it beats not having it at all. With over 6,000 applications requesting over $9 billion in construction projects I’d say the need is definitely still there.