Govs demand bioterrorism money

National Governors Association

The National Governors Association this week sent a letter to Health and Human Services Department Secretary Tommy Thompson opposing the department's proposal to reduce bioterrorism preparedness funding.

The proposal would reduce or redirect more than $1.8 billion appropriated for state efforts to bolster the public health infrastructure in fiscal 2002 and 2003. It would also impact the fiscal 2004 funding that states are only now applying to receive in grants.

This would cause massive disruption to state initiatives that are getting started with the 2002 money, but that still need the following years' funding in order to get to a point where states can sustain them, according to the letter from North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, chairman and vice chairwoman of NGA's Health and Human Services Committee.

"Governors are committed to ensuring that U.S. citizens are secure from bioterrorism attacks, but this can only be achieved through an equal, stable and steady commitment from the federal government to continue supporting state bioterrorism preparedness initiatives," they wrote.

This comes while governors on the Homeland Security Funding Task Force are working to develop recommendations for how to expedite, if not standardize, the grant disbursement process from the states to the local governments.

Those recommendations are due in June, and will likely fall into five areas, according to Gerald Murphy, director of NGA's homeland security and technology division. The areas are:

Managing expectations and awareness of the distribution process.

Administering grants at the state and local level.

Expediting the process through procurement strategies, e.g. cooperative purchasing agreements.

Reimbursing and advancing funds.

Recording, tracking and measuring the process.

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