Despite very positive reviews, a statewide orthoimagery project proposed by the WI Department of Military affairs to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to clear the final hurdle in a competitive grant process. If successful, the $800,000 project would have helped offset orthoimagery costs for counties acquiring new imagery in 2010.
Earlier this year the WI Office of Justice Assistance, on behalf of Wisconsin agencies, submitted an aerial photography “investment justification” (IJ) along with more than a dozen other IJs to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security equaling $24 million in requested funds.
Last month, OJA received word that the state of Wisconsin would receive only $10 million. This is down 20 percent from last year’s award of $12.5 million. The reason for the reduction in funding is not due to poor quality IJs, but a formula change in the way DHS distributes the funds to states. Coastal and international border states received a higher “risk value” in the overall point system.
A national peer review committee placed four of Wisconsin’s IJs in the top 15 percent nationwide, including the aerial photography IJ submitted by DMA. Wisconsin also scored in the top 10 among all states, but because 90 percent of the scoring is weighted by risk, Wisconsin actually lost funding.
Given that OJA must first provide funds to projects already started in previous years, as well as the reduction in the overall award to Wisconsin, OJA and the local review committee had to severely limit awards given to new projects.
Despite the setback, DMA has the option to re-submit the same proposal for the next funding cycle. The timing would be very tight, given that many organizations are planning to fly in the spring of 2010, but this does leave a glimmer of hope that federal DHS funds can still be secured to help offset local government costs.