On January 24, Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.) introduced the First Responder Access to Innovative Technologies Act (H.R. 687) to help state and local governments applying for federal grant money through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mitigate the threat of terrorism and natural disasters.
The legislation would also help clarify rules under DHS’ Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSP) that have prevented some first responders from receiving equipment they’ve applied for.
Currently, equipment for first responders purchased with UASI and SHSP grant funding is required to meet or exceed standards put in place by DHS, but key stakeholders, including local governments, have expressed concerns that the procurement process lacks uniformity, predictability and transparency.
As H.R. 687 is under review in the House Homeland Security Committee, NACo will work with congressional leaders to advocate for the interests of counties that are currently applying for grants under the SHSP and UASI.