Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Security grants update

 January 18, 2011

Dear Homeland Security Grantees and Other Interested Parties:

As you may be aware, Congress has not completed the fiscal year 2011 Appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2010 and expires on September 30, 2011.

A stopgap spending measures (Continuing Resolution or CR) is currently in place that extends government funding until March 4, 2011.  Congress has approximately 15 legislative days remaining to complete work on the pending appropriations.

To begin, the House Budget Committee will set spending levels for the rest of the fiscal year (the first 5 months were set in the CR at FY2010 levels).  There are a couple of ways for Congress to fund the remaining seven months.  They could pass another stopgap measure that encompasses the rest of the year at current rates (the FY2010 level) or less (a cut in spending). They also may separate out a number of funding areas to take up as stand alone legislation for Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.  These areas may require a greater level of specificity and flexibility that could not be accomplished through a Continuing Resolution.

With a slow start and few legislative days remaining before the current CR expires, Congress will be under increasing pressure to finish the FY2011 funding cycle.  Adding to the challenge is a divided Congress, led by Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) was funded at $19 million in FY2010.  We can expect that $19 million would be our top number in FY2011, or less, as part of overall spending reductions.  Once Congress completes its work (on homeland security appropriations) and the President signs the legislation into law, we expect that the next round of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, at whatever level has been appropriated, will commence within 25 days from enactment.

We look forward to updating you on the legislative front and next steps in the grant process, once pertinent information becomes available to us.  We expect that our technical assistance work will ramp up and coincide with the release of Department of Homeland Security’s guidance on the FY11 NSGP program.

Stay tuned.


Rob Goldberg
Senior Director of Legislative Affairs

Friday, January 7, 2011

Incendiary Packages Target Government Buildings in Maryland

NYPD SHIELD Terrorism Assessment
Open Source Assessment
January 6, 2011 Information cutoff: 4:00 PM
NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau Terrorism Threat Analysis Group

Key points. Two packages ignited shortly after being opened in two separate government buildings in Maryland. Investigators are examining two additional suspicious packages in a courthouse and a state office building in Baltimore.

The first device ignited in the mailroom of the Jeffrey Building, located in the state capital of Annapolis. A second device ignited at the state’s Department of Transportation headquarters, located in Hanover, Maryland. Two people suffered minor burn-related injuries. No claim of responsibility has been made.

Details of Incident. On Thursday, January 6, 2011, two incendiary devices concealed in packages ignited in two government office buildings in Maryland. At approximately 12:30 pm, a package addressed to Governor O’Malley ignited when it was opened in the mailroom of the Jeffrey Building located at 16 Francis Street in Annapolis. The mailroom attendant who opened the package suffered minor burns on his hands. The Jeffrey Building houses several different offices of the Maryland state government, including Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of State.

At approximately 12:45 pm, a second package of similar size and color ignited when it was opened in the mailroom of the Maryland Department of Transportation, located in Hanover, MD. The state employee who opened the package suffered minor burns, and several others were transported to medical facilities as a precautionary measure.
Both ignitions included a brief flash of fire, smoke, and an odor. Officials evacuated both buildings following the incidents. No claim of responsibility has been made regarding these incendiary devices.

Conclusions. Several factors suggest that the two devices that ignited may be linked: reports indicate that the packages were of a similar shape and color; both packages targeted government officials and buildings; and the devices ignited within approximately 15 minutes of each other. Moreover, the two devices that ignited appear to have been either poorly constructed or not intended to cause severe injury. The deliberate targeting of Maryland’s governor and state office buildings suggests that these attacks may have been motivated by anti-government sentiment.

Implications for New York City.
  • New York City remains a major target for terrorist groups and individual domestic terrorists. 
  • Explosive and incendiary devices concealed as packages have been used in the past by international and domestic terrorists and anarchists in attacks against civilians and government personnel.
  • Mailroom personnel, especially those working in government offices (JCRC comment: and Jewish organizations), should remain vigilant and keep an eye out for unusual activity and suspicious packages.
JCRC comments: Later reports indicate that the standard yellow padded envelopes had both excess postage and a fictional return address. Both are  standard indicators of suspicious mail. See JCRC's guidance on screening suspicious packages and mail here.
    1. WP Editors. “Incendiary Devices at Md. Buildings.” Washington Post. January 6, 2011.
    2. M. Dresser, T. Bishop, J. Bykowicz “Explosive Devices Cause Injuries At Two Maryland State Buildings; One Addressed To O’Malley.” Baltimore Sun. January 6. 2011
    3. This Just In. Explosions at Maryland State Offices Injure 1. CNN. January 6, 2011.