Protecting only part of our homeland: Vulnerability across states and the allocation of federal terrorism funds

Alexia Brunet, Purdue University


Vulnerabilities realized following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 highlight the need for the Federal government to allocate funding for the prevention and response to terrorist events based on vulnerability to terrorism. However, the funding formula used by the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) is based on a lump sum to all states plus an incremental amount distributed by population. Therein the formula does not explicitly address varying risks across States. The objective of this thesis is to formulate theoretically an alternative formula to distribute grant funding based on terrorism risk across States. Empirical techniques are used to test four hypotheses regarding grant funding. Unique sub-state government data are used to infer the optimal funding levels to cover expected damages associated with various infrastructure categories: hazardous material sources, federal courts, hospitals, interstates, pipelines, power generation, public water use, airports, universities, port capacity, and confined feeding operations. Two political stories emerge from the results. First, the SHSP funding formula is politically motivated. States whose electoral votes were cast for the Democrat candidate in the 2004 election, and states that have more Representatives in the U.S. Congress, receive more SHSP grant funding in total and per capita terms. Next, the combination of the SHSP with four additional grant programs, thereby forming the overarching Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), is positively motivated by congressional representation and political party affiliation and negatively motivated by appropriations committee membership. States with Representatives or Senators on congressional appropriations committees receive less grant funding when additional programs are added. The political formulas for the SHSP and the larger HSGP are compared to formulas based on vulnerability. Vulnerability-based allocations are calculated for all states using five prioritization strategies. The difference between vulnerability-based allocations and the SHSP allocations indicates that the SHSP program overcompensates for population-based vulnerabilities and under-compensates for other vulnerabilities. In addition, other grant programs do not compensate for the population bias of the SHSP.




McNamara, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Economics|Public administration

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server