Gov. Watch

Monday, September 1, 2008

New physical security grant program

In early August, the Security Industry Association, like others, was expecting the President to sign the Higher Education Act, which includes a new federal grant program for colleges and universities to purchase security solutions. When it was originally written, the Department of Education Student Safety and Campus Emergency Management grant program didn’t specifically include investments in physical security systems. Don Erickson, SIA’s legislative director, said SIA worked with Rep. Yvette Clark of New York to get those investments included in the program. Assuming the bill is signed by the President, and Erickson expects it will be since it was passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress, SIA will be “meeting with the Department of Education to help develop the grant guidance … and starting to talk to the appropriators to see what they’re thinking.” A grant amount for the six-year grant program was not authorized. Erickson surmised that, given the scope of the program, the appropriation shouldn’t be less than $100 million. The challenge, he said, may be keeping the grant program on course during a change in administrations.

Fire Safety Right-To-Know Act

Also in the Higher Ed Act is language from the Campus Fire Safety Right to Know Act, where colleges and universities report fire-safety information. Ed Comeau, of Campus Firewatch, said this legislation will “provide an incentive for schools to have a high level of fire safety and fire safety education … it will provide information for prospective students and their parents which will allow them to evaluate [the safety of the school] along with academics and athletics.”