Evidence of the recession affecting the U.S. was clear even in late 2008 and President Barack Obama’s actions signing into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) last February was obvious indication that something had to be done. The act, in which Congress allocated $787 billion in new spending to help spur the economy on the road of recovery, left many business owners and security professionals, among others, hopeful that positive developments would occur.
Earlier in 2009, the Electronic Security Association, (ESA) reported that industry-specific language was included in the education portion of the law that provided for the funding of professionally installed life safety/security equipment. The final version, however, removed that language and instead, appropriated a lump sum of $53.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Education for distribution to the states.
While the measure contains no specific line-item funding for the life safety and security industry, the law did specify a few uses for which school districts and colleges would be able to use the money, mainly the modernization, renovation and repair of public school buildings or for college facilities used primarily for instruction, research or student housing.
Addressing the State of the Union
In president Obama’s State of the Union address last month, among many of the issues addressed, he pledged his commitment to improving schools and the “education of our people.”
“Now, this year, we’ve broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform—reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science; and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city. In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education. And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.”
The American Association of School Administrators, Arlington, Va., the professional organization for school superintendents and other school system leaders, issued the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union address:
“As school districts nationwide face steep funding shortfalls, in spite of the federal stimulus spending, it is critical that Congress and the administration ensure schools have the resources they need to fuel economic recovery and growth. Districts are making tough decisions about programs and personnel that can be cut with the least impact student achievement, while also facing a looming ‘funding cliff’ at the end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Now more than ever, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the law currently known as No Child Left Behind) must be rewritten to reflect its original purpose: success for all children, especially disadvantaged children. ESEA’s formulas must be focused on those with the greatest need: low-income students in rural, urban and suburban settings. In addition, as funding shortfalls continue to divert resources from critical education programs, it is essential that Congress fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure children with disabilities receive the best possible education and services.
We applaud the president’s emphasis on education. However, the devil is in the details. We look forward to seeing the details in the FY2011 budget request the president sends to Congress.”
Generating new revenue
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported that only $140 billion of stimulus funds will be for construction spending in significant infrastructure investment. While some projects will be directly funded by federal agencies, much of the money will be distributed to state governments to be spent.
The AGC identified 52 different programs in six categories that will fund this federal spending. Approximately 15 of those programs will likely require electronic security system solutions in all or part of the construction projects. On the high end, those programs include $5.55 billion for GSA federal buildings and facilities, including $4.5 billion for high-performance green buildings conversion, $750 million for federal buildings and courthouses and $300 million for border stations and land points of entry.
Smaller programs include $90 million for U.S. State Department passport and training facilities; and $140 million to repair, construct and restore U.S. geological survey facilities, as well as fund equipment replacement and upgrades, national map activities and other main¬tenance and improvement projects.
Yet the president’s State of the Union address shed a brighter light on the state of the country’s critical infrastructure. In his address, he discussed plans to visit Tampa, Fla., “where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation’s goods, services, and information.” And with expanding projects in critical infrastructure comes a heightened need for security.
Funding for ports
Of the $787 billion stimulus package, $150 billion in funding was to be provided for the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP). According to the Security Industry Association, Alexandria, Va., late of 2009, Congress voted to eliminate the local cost-share requirement for port security grants. The change was made in the Homeland Security Department appropriations bill (H.R. 2892) that is expected to be signed by President Obama. The move is expected to encourage ports to invest more in critical infrastructure protection initiatives.
“We are thrilled that Congress recognized that the economic climate is not conducive to imposing a cost-share requirement on port security grant applicants,” said Don Erickson, director of Government Relations, SIA. “We also understand that appropriators are not inclined to waive the requirement beyond FY2010, but SIA will work to prevent it from being imposed in future years.”
For more information on funding and updates, check out www.siaonline.org and also visit www.recovery.gov.
Sidebar: New Source of Grants
Schools across the country can begin applying for 2010 Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
The funds will be available for schools to develop, or review and improve, and fully integrate a campus-wide emergency management plan. The average size of award for school districts varies by the number of campuses: $150,000 for districts with one to 20 educational facilities; $300,000 for districts with 21 to 75; and $600,000 for districts with 76 or more educational facilities.
The DOE estimates there will be about 96 awards. The deadline for submitting the grants, either electronically or in hard copy is February 26, 2010.
Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services, said REMS grants are typically awarded to those applicants who are able to clearly demonstrate the greatest need.