Navigating port security funding

$100 million has been earmarked to help protect critical port infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Notices of Funding Opportunity for eight DHS preparedness grant programs totaling nearly $1.8 billion.

State, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations and the private sector, may be eligible for funds to improve the nation’s readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. 

These funds are intended to address the nation’s immediate security needs and ensure public safety in communities throughout the United States. For FY 2020, DHS is focused on information sharing and collaboration to building a national culture of preparedness and protecting against terrorism and other emerging threats to our national security.

The Port Security Grant Program's priority is enhancing cybersecurity.
The Port Security Grant Program's priority is enhancing cybersecurity. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Port Security Grant Program

The Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) plays an important role in the implementation of the National Preparedness System by supporting the building, sustainment and delivery of core capabilities essential to achieving the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient nation.

A total of $100 million has been earmarked for PSGP to help protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.

The PSGP program's priority is enhancing cybersecurity. Projects that sufficiently address the Cybersecurity National Priority will have final review scores increased by a multiplier of 20%.

Below are examples of eligible project types to address cybersecurity:

1. Cybersecurity risk assessments'

2. Projects that address vulnerabilities identified in cybersecurity risk assessments:

  • Improving cybersecurity of critical infrastructure to meet minimum levels identified by   CISA
  • Cybersecurity training and planning.

The following are second-tier priorities that help recipients implement a comprehensive approach to securing critical transportation infrastructure:

1. Enhancing the protection of soft targets/crowded places;

2. Addressing emerging threats (e.g., transnational criminal organizations, weapons of mass destruction, unmanned aerial systems, etc.);

3. Effective planning;

4. Training and awareness campaigns;

5. Equipment and capital projects; 

6. Exercises.

Project eligibility

Eligible project types include measures to enhance the physical security at cruise and ferry terminals along with the placement of marine barriers to prevent access to sensitive berthing areas. Rapid response boats are also eligible to prevent or respond to security incidents on waterways in and around airports, cruise terminals and ferry terminals.

Planning activities continue to be a priority for the development of port-wide security risk assessment plans, response plans and continuity of operations plans. Equipment and capital projects may be awarded for the following areas:

  • Physical protective measures;
  • Long-term vulnerability reduction;
  • Infrastructure systems;
  • Operational communications;
  • Interdiction and disruption;
  • Screening, search and detection;
  • Access control and identity verification.

A detailed description of allowable investments for each project type is included in the Preparedness Grants Manual

Applicants will be required to submit investment justifications that address the PSGP priorities. Applicants are encouraged to review the 2018-2022 FEMA Strategic Plan.

Applying for an award under the PSGP is a two-part process. Eligible applicants must submit their initial application through the portal at least seven days before the final application deadline. Once the information has been validated, the remainder of the application must be completed in the FEMA Non-Disaster Grants System (ND Grants). Please see the Preparedness Grants Manual for information on preparing and submitting an application.

Deadline: Completed applications must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. ET on April 15, 2020.

Period of performance: 36 months.

Project Start Date: Sept. 1, 2020.

Cost Share: 25% cost-share requirement. The non-Federal entity contribution can be cash (hard match) or third-party in-kind (soft match), with the exception of construction activities, which must be a cash (hard) match. In-kind contributions are defined as third-party contributions per 2 C.F.R. § 200.306.

Private Sector Cost Share: Private, for-profit PSGP award recipients must provide a non-Federal entity contribution supporting 50% of the total of all project costs as submitted in the application and approved in the award.

See Cost Share Exceptions on pg 9 of the funding guidelines.

PSGP training priorities

  • Active shooter training;
  • Shipboard firefighting training;
  • Public awareness/preparedness campaigns;
  • Maritime domain awareness projects.

The FY 2020 PSGP NOFO is located online at

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