Transparancy As A Tool: Securing Collaborative Approaches to Federal Homeland Security Funding in the Los Angeles Area

By Nicolas Riddal

-Executive Summary-

The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) is designed to enhance regional preparedness and capabilities in high-threat, high-density urban areas.[1] In 2022, UASI grants funded nearly $615 million nationwide and just under $68 million for the Los Angeles (LA) region.[2] Competition among agencies for the resources allocated for the LA region often result in conflicts from the differing visions of who should receive funding. To build a more effective UASI program in LA, this thesis argues for the incorporation of collaborative processes into governance, training, and technology.

In determining the best course of action, I explored many of the processes that go into grant development. Much of these processes involves human elements and clashes between regional security initiatives and individual agencies hoping to acquire “stuff.” I examined ways to encourage their collaboration as opposed to their fighting for a share of the “entitlements.”

I began with a policy analysis of current governance, process styles, and the best ways to modify the existing governance systems. In management, such an inquiry means establishing open networks of decision-making authorities between participating agencies and developing shared collaborative processes. Notably, LA agencies have collaborated well in the framework of wildfires, but they could do better in response to homeland security issues.

The next aspect of the research involved investigating two technological innovations that build platforms to unify intelligence. Technology plays a crucial part in fostering collaboration between agencies. Indeed, agencies could collaborate more effectively if they invested in shared technology systems like asset management and common operating picture systems. The UASI must ensure that all partners have access to the same information and can communicate effectively before, during, and after emergencies. For success, the LA region must bridge the gap between types of agencies and different mission sets.

Finally, training is crucial for promoting transparency and collaboration among UASI partners. Producing mission-focused training for executive-authority members could help unify the membership of the UASI. Ongoing training that covers emergency management, incident response, and interagency communication could promote a common understanding of procedures and protocols and foster a sense of teamwork.

[1] Pamela S. Williams, “Fiscal Year 2022 Notices of Funding Opportunity,” Grant Programs Directorate Information Bulletin No. 474 (official memorandum, Washington, DC: Department of Homeland Security, 2022),

[2] Chris P. Currie, Homeland Security Grant Program: Additional Actions Could Further Enhance FEMA’s Risk-Based Grant Assessment Model, GAO-18-354 (Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office, 2018), 37.

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