Dear MWRA Members: 

This is our very first blog as we strive to bring you useful information concerning ports, water management districts and levees. We will try and post a blog every ten days, written by various guest authors. This blog's author directed the Port Security Grant Program at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters and he administered over one billion dollars in PSG funds.  We will let you know the topic of each blog in advance. 

Best to All, 

Deirdre McGowan, 
MWRA Executive Director.


The PSGP directly supports maritime transportation infrastructure security activities.  PSGP is one tool in the comprehensive set of measures authorized by Congress and implemented by the Administration to strengthen the Nation’s critical infrastructure against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks.

The vast majority of U.S. maritime critical infrastructure is owned and operated by state, local, and private sector maritime industry partners.  PSGP funds available to these entities are intended to improve port-wide maritime security risk management; enhance maritime domain awareness; support maritime security training and exercises; and to maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.  PSGP investments must address Coast Guard and Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC) identified vulnerabilities in port security and support the prevention, detection, response, and/or recovery from attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IED) and other non-conventional weapons.

Pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, as amended (MTSA),  Section 102, 70101 thru 70117, the Department of Homeland Security, (DHS)  established a risk based grant program to support maritime security risk management.  Funding is directed towards the implementation of Area Maritime Security Plans (AMSP) and Facility Security Plans (FSP) among port authorities, facility operators, and state and local government agencies that are required to provide port security services.  In administering the grant program, national, economic, energy, and strategic defense concerns based upon the most current risk assessments available were considered.

Ferry systems were eligible to participate in the FY 2016 PSGP.  However, any ferry system that participated and accepted awards under the FY 2016 PSGP are not eligible for the FY 2016 Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP).  Likewise, any ferry systems that applied for funding under TSGP are not considered for funding under the PSGP.

By law, DHS must direct these funds to the Nation’s highest risk ports.  Eligible entities within other Port Areas covered by an AMSP are also able to apply for PSGP funds.

Eligibility - The following entities are encouraged to participate in the Port Security Grant Program:
     Owners or operators of federally regulated terminals, facilities, U.S. inspected passenger vessels or ferries as defined in the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Parts 101, 104, 105, 106.
     Members of an AMSC, per 33 C.F.R. Part 103, who are recognized as such by the USCG Captain of the Port (COTP) and are required to provide port security services.  Specifically eligible applicants include port authorities, port police, local law enforcement agencies, port and local fire departments, and facility fire brigades that have jurisdictional authority to respond to incidents in the port.

Taking all of the above into consideration there are some very simple and easy steps to follow in order to be both eligible for and receive a PSG:

1. Become an active member of the Area Maritime Security Advisory Committee

2. Join the U. S. Coast Guard’s HOMEPORT network.

3. Download and read and re-read the current Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Program Guidelines

4. Designate one (1) person within your organization to draft the application, coordinate the proposed project’s outline, budget, engineering drawings, construction timeline and to comply with the application submission deadline  requirements. This individual must have access to your corporate CEO, CFO, and any and all impacted Department Heads. This extensive “Team” must be fully apprised of the timelines involved and the need for their timely response to any inquiries, and/or items needed for the application package, and submission upload.

5. Read and re-read the current Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Guidelines.

6. Download all forms off the FEMA website specifically the Investment Justification (IJ) budget, Environmental Historical Preservation (EHP) and start completing them on day one. Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP)Fact Sheet

7. Do NOT wait till the last day to submit the application to the web site. (With so much traffic, historically the site either crashes or fails to provide you with an acknowledgement of the application’s submission. Either way—your time and efforts are wasted and your grant will not be reviewed.

8. Become an active member of your Area Maritime Security Committee.

9. Read and re-read the current Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Guidelines.

10. Do NOT wait till the last day to submit the application to the web site.

Yes, you read the ten (10) steps correctly!

Your first administrative step should be to review the prior Fiscal Year Port Security Grant Program Guidelines and associated documents at:   and to further review the specific projects that are the current year’s priority to see if your project is within the parameters of the current year’s priorities:

Once you have downloaded each of the required documents  become familiar with what each requires.   If the information is not within your purview locate who within your entities'  structure has access, knowledge, and gain their support in your efforts.

Eligible applicants must submit their initial application through the portal at Applicants in need of support should contact the customer support hotline at (800) 518-4726.

Eligible applicants will be notified by FEMA and asked to proceed with submitting their complete application package in the Non Disaster (ND) Grants System.  Applicants in need of technical support with the ND Grants System should contact or (800) 865-4076.

If you have questions regarding the application process, contact the FEMA Grant Program Directorate Call Center at (866) 927-5646

Remember, the deadline for submission of the Grant Application package will be announced and strictly complied with.   The deadline will be 11:59 p.m. EDT on the date specified.    Again, DO NOT wait till the last day, nor the last hour to submit your project!

The application process is protracted, time-consuming, aggravating and frustrating, yet once the grant submission has been approved, and funding authorized you will welcome the new tasks of contracting and ensuring that the project is completed within the requisite  thirty-six (36) month timeline.  

I hope that the above has provided you with some insights, and has helped direct you on your way toward making an application for a Port Security Grant Program funded project.

John Marks

About the Author:
John Marks is a retired U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Captain.   Post retirement he was recalled to active duty at Coast Guard Headquarters where he was assigned as the Coast Guard’s Port Security Grant Program’s Project Manager during this two year period he oversaw the allocation and awarding of one point one billion tax dollars within the Port Security Grant Program.


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