1. #1
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    Default DHS/NTIA 1 billion interoperability grants

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National
    Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have signed
    a memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering administration of a $1
    billion interoperability grant program.

    NTIA released the MOU late today (02/21/07). It was signed last
    Friday, in the wake of criticism from Capitol Hill about why it was
    taking the agencies so long to hammer out the accord.

    Under the MOU, DHS's Office of Grants and Training will be tasked with
    providing services to NTIA for the program. Among other things, DHS is
    responsible for (1) developing procedures for the grant program,
    including a timetable for awarding grants, (2) awarding grants by the
    Sept. 30 deadline, and (3) conducting follow-up site visits to ensure
    projects are being completed.

    NTIA will assist DHS in establishing procedures. It will also approve
    the final awards and transfer funding to DHS for the program.

    Grants can be awarded to the 50 states, the District of Columbia,
    Puerto Rico, and four U.S. territories, and states can pass funds
    through to localities. Funds aren't limited to 700 megahertz band
    systems - as some lawmakers and localities had feared.

    The grants are to be awarded by mid-July, with grant guidance to be
    completed between April 1 and June 30. After states and other
    jurisdictions are told how much they qualify for, the grant guidance
    will actually be released and detailed proposals justifying the
    funding must be submitted, said Todd Sedmak, NTIA's communications
    director.

    NTIA plans to transfer to DHS up to $988.9 million during the length
    of the MOU, including $958.9 million for grants and $30 million for
    management and administration. Although the grants would be awarded by
    Sept. 30, the bulk of funds wouldn't actually be distributed until the
    first two quarters of fiscal year 2008 - or Oct. 1, 2007, to March 31,
    2008.

    Earlier this month, the chairman and ranking member of the House
    Homeland Security Committee said they were concerned by recent
    testimony from DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff that his department and
    NTIA likely wouldn't meet the Sept. 30 deadline for awarding the grants.

    In a letter, Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D., Miss.) and Peter T. King
    (R., N.Y.), the panel's chairman and ranking member, respectively,
    asked for a "complete explanation" about why the two agencies had not
    yet signed the MOU. The lawmakers asked for answers to their questions
    by this past Monday.

    In their letter, Reps. Thompson and King said NTIA representatives
    told committee staffers last June that the MOU would be in place by
    last Sept. 30. "In addition, we understand that there is uncertainty
    regarding the grant guidance that will accompany the $1 billion in
    interoperability funds," the letter said, adding that systems outside
    the 700 MHz band should be eligible for grants.

    A letter to Chairman Thompson said that NTIA did not view the
    legislation as limiting grant awards only to 700 MHz band systems,
    according to Mr. Sedmak. The letter said "all available technologies"
    will be eligible, as long as they are interoperable with 700 MHz band
    systems, he said.

    Public safety groups have been getting impatient for the funding. In a
    January letter to NTIA, eight major public safety and municipal groups
    urged NTIA to promptly move to award the grants and to use grant
    guidance formulated by DHS. Municipalities also have been worried that
    the grants would be limited to 700 MHz band systems. During a Senate
    hearing last month, for example, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
    urged lawmakers to allow systems such as his, which doesn't use that
    spectrum, to be eligible for the grants.

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    There you go. At least we have a timeline to hold the states too.

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    So "NTIA" is skiming off $11million+ to do ________?

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    I would be willing to bet in most states, you see the state take the lions share for systems. Remember, it says the grants will be handed out to the states, and they MAY pass it on to localities.

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    The orginal bill states this:

    `(1) may take such administrative action as is necessary to establish and implement a grant program to assist public safety agencies--

    `(A) in conducting statewide or regional planning and coordination to improve the interoperability of emergency communications;

    `(B) in supporting the design and engineering of interoperable emergency communications systems;

    `(C) in supporting the acquisition or deployment of interoperable communications equipment or systems that improve or advance the interoperability with public safety communications systems;

    `(D) in obtaining technical assistance and conducting training exercises related to the use of interoperable emergency communications equipment and systems; and

    `(E) in establishing and implementing a strategic technology reserve to pre-position or secure interoperable communications in advance for immediate deployment in an emergency or major disaster (as defined in section 102(2) of Public Law 93-288 (42 U.S.C. 5122)); and

    `(2) shall make payments of not to exceed $1,000,000,000, in the aggregate, through fiscal year 2010 from the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Fund established under section 309(j)(8)(E) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)(8)(E)) to carry out the grant program established under paragraph (1), of which not more than $100,000,000, in the aggregate, may be allocated for grants under paragraph (1)(E).';
    I

    NMHO section "c" would be a key operative factor here in that it says to "support acquisition and deployment of the equipment". In order to satisfy that, it has to come down to the local level folks otherwise, the state is still talking to empty space or amongst themselves and has not solved an interoperability issue.


    I am not going to bet the farm on this but, since they have given it to Grants and Training at DHS I would suspect you just might see an application process similar to the AFG regional format for applying with a State Administering Agency review of any application for compliance with existing State Homeland Security communication plans.

    Given the short timetable they have to work with, it is logical to assume that they would utilize or copy an existing grant program that is already proven successful to model the process after. AFG is by far the best model for them to follow in my opinion. We will just have to wait and see. ANyone remotely considering trying to use this better be "pedal to the metal" in getting your " AFLAC" togther and having a plan ready to submit. Just think AFG regional communciations plan and go about it the same way in preperation. Thos that snooze here will lose for sure. The better planned, prepared and completet your applciaton the further ahead you will be on those who will procrastinate till the last minute and throw togther haphazard applciations and programs in an effort to get anythig submitted.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    "Grants can be awarded to the 50 states, the District of Columbia,
    Puerto Rico, and four U.S. territories, and states can pass funds
    through to localities. "

    I pretty much will bet the farm on it being distributed to the states,
    and the states, and many states figuring out how it will be used
    to help the localities. This often is not real good for many agencies.

    Just in time frame alone. Get the states to make up the request, you can put a much shorter time frame on the application period that way (You can bet each state already has a plan in mind, and the governers have already been politicing) and you only have 56 or so applications to review. With the
    very short time frame they are looking at, this seems like a much quicker way than dealing with thousands upon thousands of requests, AND THEN reviewing each one, sending it back to the state for their review, etc.

    With so many states building out regional or statewide systems right now,
    I forsee much going to fill shortfalls - or to support existing programs.

    How do you fill a shortfall? If the state of confusion is building out a statewide "integrated wireless network", and they need to include, planned
    to include interoperability gateways, what would prevent them from using this interoperability money to build out those gateways - and using the funds they were going for the gateways for other projects in building out the "integrated wireless network"?

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    Yeah I know, I know but, look at the language in AFG guidlines and it is quite similar:

    Eligible applicants for the AFG program are limited to fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations. Fire departments or nonaffiliated EMS
    organizations that are operating in any of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, or Puerto Rico are eligible for funding.


    I've been wrong before and I will be wrong again, I am quite sure. I prefer the "optimistic" attitude vs "pessimistic". One thing for sure though, if you sit around waiting to see which way it goes, you will not have time to get any sort of decent application together and then it will not matter anyway.

    Those that stay successful in grant writing always have 90% complete projects planned out well in advance and then look for a program which will fund their need adapting themselves, as needed, to fit the program priorities.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Don't get me wrong. EVERYONE should have a communications plan, showing where they want to be, and ideas on how to get there.

    That plan should include grant projects, as ready to go as possible. (As you know, each grant is different, but just as we pre-plan for a fire, we should pre-plan for a grant.)

    95% of the agencies out there are;

    A. Waiting for someone else to present the plan - ie, what they should do, unfortunately often times the blind leading the blind,

    OR

    B. Will just put in for more portables, mobiles, and pagers.


    We should not be waiting for the state, county, city, to tell us about the system we need, we should be telling them!


    And I am not griping about the grant, I am just dealing with it on so many different levels already that I know how many states are looking at it. I
    could be wrong - just ask my wife!

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    Any new updates on this?

    Will my department need to write a grant to apply, or will the money be funneled through the state?

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    You will definetly have to wite and applicaton and you had better be opart of a regional type project in your county at least.
    Kurt Bradley
    Fire/EMS/EMA Grant Consultant
    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    I have two questions that go along with this thread. First of all, we are looking at a regional project but because of our terrain, the plan is to go with a 400 mhz system. Under either of these two programs, is it possible to receive a regional award using a 400 mhz plan? Second, I know AFG has a 1 million dollar limit, does anyone have an idea of the funding limits in the NTIA program?

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    I don't think this is one we'll need to worry about writing anything to. So far I have heard from clients in 4 states that have asked up their EMA chain about the funding and all were told the money is already spent and it will all be done at the state planning level. No individual FDs will be involved.

    Had one so far get told that Fire/EMS is out of it anyway, all of the money from their state is going to Law Enforcement.

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    I have questions out about this in Tennessee but I have not heard anything back. I can't find anyone that knows anything about it

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    Is it a possibility that AFG will award a grant for a region to go to a 400 mhz system from lowband? Or are they wanting the funding spent to get to the 700 and 800 mhz?

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    Quote Originally Posted by imafireman View Post
    Is it a possibility that AFG will award a grant for a region to go to a 400 mhz system from lowband? Or are they wanting the funding spent to get to the 700 and 800 mhz?
    Kelly, AFG only says that the pan must pass msuter and be compatible with your state. They will have to sign off on it and the state can waive whatevr they wnat as long as it meets their overall planning and is compatible.
    Kurt Bradley
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    Thanks Kurt. I was worried that they were going to go through all of this and have no chance of funding. I will spread the word along that they need to be sure that it is in line with the state priorities. Thanks again.

    Kelly

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC79er View Post
    I don't think this is one we'll need to worry about writing anything to. So far I have heard from clients in 4 states that have asked up their EMA chain about the funding and all were told the money is already spent and it will all be done at the state planning level. No individual FDs will be involved.

    Had one so far get told that Fire/EMS is out of it anyway, all of the money from their state is going to Law Enforcement.
    Brian I spoke withe the program director from NTIA on this and the states will have the decison to keep it all at state level or pass through to locals. I have been told that if the state is planning on keeping it all, that there will have to be sign offs from the pass through departments below, before they will allow them to do it. I am quite sure you will see a lot of states trying to do that but, there will be some who pass it on down. The states have to have a plan submitted about their intent by I believe November. It would still behoove locals at the regional level to contact their State Administering Agency for Homeland Security issues or the State Interoperable Communications director and touch base with them. If they don't exprress the need and have a plan, the states will do as they see fit. It is at the very least worth making the phone call to find out what your state is planning on doing. I was also assured that the money is not going striclty to law enforcment.
    Kurt Bradley
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    If the director said that about all of the money not going to just law enforcement, and they're letting the states decide what to do with it, I think someone is a little disconnected from the program they're running. Or sitting on top of might be a better description...

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    Default Any news on NTIA grant fund????

    Calling all Gurus:

    Has anybody heard of any news on this program? We have a pretty good package worked up ,but am waiting for news on the requirements for this grant program. We are working towards a regional voter repeater system with two sites and compatible mobile radios for all the apparatus in three departments.

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    The money is being distributed through the states based on the state's interoperability plan. There won't be anything to apply to and consider most of the money spent already since nearly every state has had an interoperability plan for some time but no money to implement it. At best the counties will be the ones presenting "applications", so don't waste your time talking department to department or micro-regional. Head to the countywide or multi-county discussions. Odds are most states are only going to get enough to upgrade infrastructure, not radios so we'll be on our own for those. As usual.

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    According to the program director at NTIA it is going to be up to the individual states as to how they choose to spend the money. Some may be going into statewide infrastructure, as BC79er has stated, however; it is up to the individual states as to how they choose to use it within the program guidance parameters. Some states may be sending money into regional type projects. Best place to start is to call your state Homeland Security Director's office and get in touch with whomever is in charge of your states Interoperable Communication plan and start asking questions.
    Kurt Bradley
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    Thanks Brian & Kurt: Thats what i figured would happen to the funds. I have spoken to the state EMA office and they said they weren't sure how the funding would be distributed. At least the State director lives in our town so maybe there is a chance!

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    Thanks Brian & Kurt: Thats what i figured would happen to the funds. I have spoken to the state EMA office and they said they weren't sure how the funding would be distributed. At least the State director lives in our town so maybe there is a chance!
    Just be sure he knows your need and that you are interested in filing an application if allowed to. In the meantime, any preperation you can do towards an IC grant is not effort wasted, as you could use that same information in a regional AFG next year if you did not get a chance to file it with the State on the NTIA one.
    Kurt Bradley
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    I am still trying to find someone at my state level that knows anything about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WJVaughn View Post
    I am still trying to find someone at my state level that knows anything about it.

    Try the links through here. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp/contact_state.htm If you don't find what you need then call your governor's office and they should be able to direct you to the right person.
    Kurt Bradley
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