Input: Less money for responders

First responder funding could dip, according to a report from Input, a government market intelligence firm.

According to the State and Local Homeland Security MarketView report, the budget presented to Congress allocates $3.6 billion for first responders, down from $3.8 billion in 2004.

At the same time, Input analysts project the market for public safety information technology and state and local homeland security initiatives will grow slowly but steadily during the next few years, topping $2.5 billion by fiscal 2009.

"While funding for IT initiatives supporting homeland security will continue over the next few years, several factors are contributing to a decreased federal focus on first responder funding," said James Krouse, state and local market analysis manager at Input. "Many believe that appropriate investment already has been made for adequate first responder preparedness, but the reality is that much of that funding has yet to make it to the front lines."

The budget request for first responders decreased because there is money waiting to be spent, Krouse said. Roughly 80 percent of federal homeland security appropriations during the past three years has not been spent, especially funds earmarked for terrorism preparedness technology, he said. "It's in the bank," Krouse said.

And although public safety IT may grow slowly in the short term, funding will increase more rapidly later, Krouse said. "Once the pilots are running, you'll see more targeted funding," he said.

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