Subcommittee chair presses DHS on state, local protection standards

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Homeland Security Subcommittee issued an ultimatum to Bush administration officials: Develop standards for state and local preparation levels or get no grants funding for fiscal 2005.

The Homeland Security Department's Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) is developing baseline metrics for state and local protection, but not fast enough, said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the subcommittee. Rogers sent a letter Dec. 8, 2003, to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge asking for metrics the office has been developing, but did not receive an answer before the subcommittee started to consider the department's funding. "We're not going to move on the '05 submission until we get that," he told ODP Director Suzanne Mencer at a hearing today on the office's budget request.

Under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8, the ODP officials are "working very aggressively to determine how do you measure preparedness," Mencer said. The directive requires the office to "establish standards that every state and territory must accomplish," she said.

ODP officials have developed a draft of those metrics, and should brief Ridge next week, Mencer said. Rogers said he wants those standards to address protection specifics and not just high-level goals so that "at least we know we are prepared in a minimum way

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