More federal help needed

Members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors say more money needs to be allocated

to state and local first-response activities. In a national action plan,

the group said only 5 percent of the $10 billion in federal funds for anti-terrorism

is allocated to state and local governments. They called for block grants

for training, communications and rescue equipment, and security measures

to protect public transit and other infrastructures.

Local governments want more federal money to complement their own investments.

For example, John Matelski, deputy chief information officer for Orlando,

Fla., said the city has a separate technology improvement process, which

he anticipates will be budgeted at $4 million next year. But city officials

are also looking for federal and state funds to help implement new technologies

on a regional basis.

But John Cohen, president and chief executive officer of PSComm LLC,

who advises local and state governments on public safety operations, said

that although all levels of government are focusing on homeland security

efforts, he doesn't see a comprehensive national strategy that pulls them

all together.

He said there needs to be a "clear direction" from leaders in Washington,

D.C., for a strategic plan that could not only build a communication infrastructure

faster, but also save money.

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