Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Lennard G. Kruger Specialist in Science and Technology Policy April 10, 2013 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL32341 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Summary The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. A related program is the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (SAFER) program, which provides grants for hiring, recruiting, and retaining firefighters. The fire grant program is now in its 13th year. The Fire Act statute was reauthorized in 2012 (Title XVIII of P.L. 112-239) and provides new guidelines on how fire grant money should be distributed. There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants—fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g., urban, suburban, or rural). The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6) funds AFG and SAFER at $337 million each. Additionally, AFG and SAFER are subject to sequestration. Both programs are part of FEMA’s State and Local Programs budget account, which is subject to a 5.0% cut. According to the Congressional Fire Service Institute, AFG and SAFER are expected to be cut by 5%, which yields FY2013 budget levels of $320 million for AFG and $320 million for SAFER. However, the amount of grant money available for AFG and SAFER is expected to be virtually unchanged from FY2012, because appropriations language provides that administrative costs are to be derived from the FEMA Salaries and Expense account, rather than (as is typically the case) from a 5% carve-out from the firefighter assistance (AFG and SAFER) appropriations account. The Administration’s FY2014 budget proposes $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $335 million for AFG and $335 million for SAFER. Funding for management and administration would be drawn from the FEMA Salaries and Expenses account. The 113th Congress will likely consider FY2014 and FY2015 budget appropriations for AFG and SAFER. As is the case with many federal programs, concerns over the federal budget deficit could impact budget levels for AFG and SAFER. At the same time, firefighter assistance budgets will likely receive heightened scrutiny from the fire community, given the local budgetary cutbacks that many fire departments are facing. Congressional Research Service Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Contents Background ...................................................................................................................................... 1 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program ........................................................................................ 1 Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2012 ................................................................................... 1 Appropriations ........................................................................................................................... 4 FY2012 ................................................................................................................................ 5 FY2013 ................................................................................................................................ 6 FY2014 ................................................................................................................................ 8 Fire Station Construction Grants in the ARRA................................................................................ 8 SAFER Grants ................................................................................................................................. 9 Program Evaluation ......................................................................................................................... 9 Reports Mandated by Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2012 ............................................. 10 Distribution of Fire Grants............................................................................................................. 11 Issues in the 113th Congress ........................................................................................................... 12 Tables Table 1. Key Provisions of Fire Grant Reauthorization ................................................................... 2 Table 2. Appropriations for Firefighter Assistance, FY2001-FY2013............................................. 5 Table 3. Recent and Proposed Appropriations for Firefighter Assistance ....................................... 5 Table 4. State-by-State Distribution of AFG Grants, FY2001-FY2011 ......................................... 13 Table 5. State-by-State Distribution of SAFER Grants, FY2005-FY2011 .................................... 15 Table 6. Requests and Awards for AFG Funding, FY2010 ............................................................ 17 Contacts Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 18 Congressional Research Service Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Background Firefighting activities are traditionally the responsibility of states and local communities. As such, funding for firefighters is provided mostly by state and local governments. During the 1990s, shortfalls in state and local budgets, coupled with increased responsibilities of local fire departments, led many in the fire community to call for additional financial support from the federal government. Although federally funded training programs existed (and continue to exist) through the National Fire Academy, and although federal money was available to first responders for counterterrorism training and equipment through the Department of Justice, there did not exist a dedicated program, exclusively for firefighters, which provided federal money directly to local fire departments to help address a wide variety of equipment, training, and other firefighterrelated needs. Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program During the 106th Congress, many in the fire community asserted that local fire departments require and deserve greater support from the federal government. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG), also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106398).1 Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. Since its establishment, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program has been reauthorized twice. The first reauthorization was Title XXXVI of the FY2005 Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-375), which authorized the program through FY2009. The second and current reauthorization is Title XVIII, Subtitle A of the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112-239), which authorizes the program through FY2017 and modifies program rules for disbursing grant money. Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2012 On January 2, 2013, the President signed P.L. 112-239, the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act. Title XVIII, Subtitle A is the Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2012, which authorizes the fire grant program through FY2017. Table 1 provides a summary of key provisions of the 2012 reauthorization, and provides a comparison with the previous statute. 1 “Firefighter assistance” is codified as §33 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act (15 U.S.C. 2229). Congressional Research Service 1 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Table 1. Key Provisions of Fire Grant Reauthorization Previous Statute (15 U.S.C. 2229 and 15 U.S.C. 2229a) Fire Grant Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Title XVIII of P.L. 112-239) Grant money allocation volunteer and combination fire departments shall receive a proportion of the total grant funding that is not less than the proportion of the U.S. population that those departments protect not less than 25% to career fire departments not less than 25% to volunteer fire departments not less than 25% to combination and paid-on-call fire departments not less than 10% for open competition among career, volunteer, combination, and paid-on-call fire departments 5% (minimum) to fire prevention and safety grants not less than 10% to fire prevention and safety grants no fire prevention and safety grant may exceed $1.5 million includes establishment of fire-safety research centers to conduct research to improve firefighter health and safety no fire prevention and safety grant may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) 3.5% (minimum) to EMS provided by fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations not less than 3.5% to EMS provided by fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations 2% (maximum) to nonaffiliated EMS organizations not more than 2% to nonaffiliated EMS organizations not more than 3% to State training academies, no more than $1 million per state academy in any fiscal year not more than 25% for purchasing vehicles Grant recipient limits populations over 1 million—lesser of $2.75 million or 0.5% of total appropriation populations of 500K to 1 million—$1.75 million populations under 500K—$1 million $9 million—over 2.5m population $6 million—1m to 2.5m population $3 million—500K to 1m population $2 million—100 to 500K population no single grant can exceed 0.5% of total funds appropriated for a single fiscal year $1 million—under 100K population DHS can waive the funding limits for populations up to 1 million in instances of extraordinary need; however the lesser of $2.75 million or 0.5% limit cannot be waived FEMA may not award a grant exceeding 1% of all available grant funds, unless FEMA determines extraordinary need Nonfederal match requirements 20% for populations over 50,000 15% for populations over 1 million 10% for populations 20,000 to 50,000 10% for populations 20,000 to 1 million 5% for populations less than 20,000 5% for populations under 20,000 No match requirement for non-fire department prevention and firefighter safety grants 5% match required for fire prevention and safety grants Maintenance of expenditures requires applicants to maintain expenditures at the same level as the average over the preceding two fiscal years Congressional Research Service requires applicants to maintain expenditures at or above 80% of the average over the preceding two fiscal years 2 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Previous Statute (15 U.S.C. 2229 and 15 U.S.C. 2229a) Fire Grant Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Title XVIII of P.L. 112-239) Economic hardship waivers no economic hardship waivers available waivers available for nonfederal matching and maintenance of expenditures requirements, FEMA will develop economic hardship waiver guidelines considering unemployment rates, percentages of individuals eligible to receive food stamps, and other factors as appropriate. Authorization levels FY2005—$900 million FY2013—$750 million FY2006—$950 million for each of FY2014-FY2017, an amount equal to the amount authorized the previous fiscal year, increased by the percentage by which the Consumer Price Index for the previous fiscal year exceeds the preceding year. FY2007—$1 billion FY2008—$1 billion FY2009—$1 billion Congressionally Directed Spending no funds may be used for any congressionally directed spending item (as defined under the rules of the Senate and the House of Representatives) no provision Sunset the authority to award assistance and grants shall expire five years after the date of enactment none SAFER grants grant period is 4 years, grantees are required to retain for at least 1 year beyond the termination of their grants those firefighter positions hired under the grant shortens the grant period to three years, with no requirement that fire departments must retain SAFER funded firefighters for an extra year year 1—10% local match year 2—20% local match year 3—50% local match year 4—70% local match year 1—25% local match year 2—25% local match year 3—65% local match total funding over 4 years for hiring a firefighter may not exceed $100K, adjusted annually for inflation for the first year, the amount of funding provided for hiring a firefighter may not exceed 75% of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department at the time the grant application was submitted for the second year, the amount of funding provided for hiring a firefighter may not exceed 75% of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department at the time the grant application was submitted for the third year, the amount of funding provided for hiring a firefighter may not exceed 35% of the usual annual cost of a first-year firefighter in that department at the time the grant application was submitted state, local, and Indian tribal governments eligible for recruitment and retention funds additionally makes national organizations eligible for recruitment and retention funds allows FEMA, in the case of economic hardship, to waive cost share requirements, as well as the prohibition on supplanting local funds and maintenance of expenditure requirements (which would allow grants to be used for retention and rehiring laid-off firefighters) Congressional Research Service 3 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Previous Statute (15 U.S.C. 2229 and 15 U.S.C. 2229a) Fire Grant Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Title XVIII of P.L. 112-239) authorized for 7 years starting at $1 billion in FY2004, ending at $1.194 billion in FY2010 reauthorizes the SAFER grant program at $750 million for FY2013; for each of FY2014-FY2017, an amount equal to the amount authorized the previous fiscal year, increased by the percentage by which the Consumer Price Index for the previous fiscal year exceeds the preceding year no funds may be used for any congressionally directed spending item (as defined under the rules of the Senate and the House of Representatives) authority to make grants shall lapse 10 years from November 24, 2003 the authority to award assistance and grants shall expire five years after the date of enactment Source: Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2012, Title VIII, Subtitle A of FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act, P.L. 112-239. Appropriations From FY2001 through FY2003, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program (as part of USFA/FEMA) received its primary appropriation through the VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Appropriation Act. In FY2004, the Assistance to Firefighters Program began to receive its annual appropriation through the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Homeland Security. Within the DHS/FEMA budget, the firefighter assistance account (which includes both AFG and SAFER) is located within State and Local Programs (SLP) as part of the First Responder Assistance Programs (FRAP). The fire grant program is in its 13th year. Table 2 shows the appropriations history for firefighter assistance, including AFG, SAFER, and the Fire Station Construction Grants (SCG) provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Table 3 shows recent and proposed appropriated funding for the AFG and SAFER grant programs. Congressional Research Service 4 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Table 2. Appropriations for Firefighter Assistance, FY2001-FY2013 AFG SAFER SCGa Total FY2001 $100 million $100 million FY2002 $360 million $360 million FY2003 $745 million $745 million FY2004 $746 million $746 million FY2005 $650 million $65 million $715 million FY2006 $539 million $109 million $648 million FY2007 $547 million $115 million $662 million FY2008 $560 million $190 million $750 million FY2009 $565 million $210 million FY2010 $390 million $420 million $810 million FY2011 $405 million $405 million $810 million FY2012 $337.5 million $337.5 million $675 million FY2013b $320 million $320 million $679 million Total $6.263 billion $2.170 billion $210 million $985 million $210 million $8.645 billion a. Assistance to Firefighters Fire Station Construction Grants (SCG) grants were funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5). b. Post-sequester level as estimated by the Congressional Fire Service Institute. Table 3. Recent and Proposed Appropriations for Firefighter Assistance (millions of dollars) FY2011 (Admin. request) FY2011 (P.L. 11210) FY2012 (Admin. request) FY2012 (P.L. 11274) FY2013 (Admin. request) FY2013 (P.L. 1136) FY2014 (Admin. request) FIRE Grants (AFG) 305 405 250 337.5 335 320 a 335 SAFER Grants 305 405 420 337.5 335 320 a 335 a 670 Total a. 610 810 670 675 670 640 Post- sequester level as estimated by the Congressional Fire Service Institute. FY2012 The Administration’s FY2012 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $250 million for AFG and $420 million for SAFER. According to the budget proposal, the request would fund 2,200 firefighter positions and approximately 5,000 AFG grants. The FY2012 Congressional Research Service 5 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding budget proposal stated that the firefighter assistance grant process “will give priority to applications that enhance capabilities for terrorism response and other major incidents.”2 The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations, 2012, bill (H.R. 2017) was reported by the House Appropriations Committee on May 26, 2011. The House Committee bill would have provided $350 million for firefighter assistance, including $200 million for AFG and $150 million for SAFER. The House Appropriations bill report (H.Rept. 112-91) directed FEMA to continue granting funds directly to local fire departments and to include the United States Fire Administration during the grant decision process. FEMA was also directed to maintain an allhazards focus and was prohibited from limiting beyond current law the list of eligible activities, including those related to wellness. During the House floor consideration of H.R. 2017, two firefighter assistance amendments were adopted. The first amendment (offered by Mr. LaTourette and Mr. Pascrell, and agreed to by a recorded vote of 333-87) raised FY2012 funding levels to $335 million for AFG and $335 million for SAFER. The total level for firefighter assistance ($670 million) is equal to the level requested by the Administration. The second amendment (offered by Mr. Price of North Carolina and agreed to by a recorded vote of 264-157) prohibited enforcement of various SAFER requirements for grantees. These waivers would allow FY2012 SAFER grants to be used to rehire laid-off firefighters and fill positions eliminated through attrition, remove cost-share requirements, allow grants to extend longer than the current five year duration, and permit the amount of funding per position at levels exceeding the current limit of $100,000. The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations, 2012, bill (H.R. 2017) was passed by the House on June 2, 2011. On September 7, 2011, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $750 million for firefighter assistance in FY2012 (S.Rept. 112-74), which is a 12% increase over the House-passed level. The total included $375 million for AFG and $375 million for SAFER. As does the House bill, the Senate bill also waived or prohibited SAFER requirements in FY2012. P.L. 112-74, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2012, provided $675 million for firefighter assistance, including $337.5 million for AFG and $337.5 million for SAFER. The conference report directed FEMA to continue funding applications according to local priorities and those established by the USFA, to maintain an all hazards focus, and to continue the current grant application and review process as specified in the House report. FY2013 The Administration’s FY2013 budget proposed $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $335 million for AFG and $335 million for SAFER. This is a decrease of $5 million from the FY2012 level. The Firefighter Assistance Grants would be categorized under First Responder Assistance Programs (FRAP), one of three activities under FEMA’s State and Local Programs (SLP) appropriation. 2 Office of Management and Budget, Appendix: Budget of the United States Government, FY2012, p. 538. Congressional Research Service 6 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Historically, DHS has requested that a percentage of AFG funding (up to 5%) be set aside for management and administration of the grant program. Starting in FY2013, grant administration (for AFG and SAFER) would be shifted to the SLP Management and Administration office. According to DHS, this will make an additional $28.8 million of the Firefighter Assistance appropriation available for grants. On May 16, 2012, The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY2013 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 5855). While the committee mark is identical to the Administration requested level—$335 million for AFG and $335 million for SAFER—the committee denied the Administration’s request to shift AFG and SAFER into the State and Local Programs account. Unlike the Administration request, H.R. 5855 would designate up to 4.7% of the amount appropriated to firefighter assistance for program administration. The committee report (H.Rept. 112-492) directed FEMA to continue granting funds directly to local fire departments and to include the United States Fire Administration during the grant decision process. FEMA was also directed to maintain an all-hazards focus and was prohibited from limiting beyond current law the list of eligible activities, including those related to wellness. The committee continued the requirement for peer review and directed FEMA to provide official notifications to rejected applicants who do not meet the criteria for peer review. During floor action on June 6, 2012, an amendment was offered by Representative Runyan to increase funding for AFG and SAFER by $2.5 million each, taking its $5 million offset from the Office of the Under Secretary for Management. The amendment passed by voice vote, bringing the firefighter assistance account to $675 million ($337.5 million AFG, $337.5 million SAFER), which is identical to the FY2012 level. H.R. 5855 was passed by the House on June 7, 2012. On May 22, 2012, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $675 million for firefighter assistance for FY2013 (S. 3216). This level includes $337.5 million for AFG and $337.5 million for SAFER. The Senate level is identical to the FY2012 level. Like the House, the committee denied the Administration’s request to shift AFG and SAFER into the State and Local Programs account. However, the committee has included program and administration costs separately under the FEMA “Salaries and Expenses” account. The committee report (S.Rept. 112-169) noted that under this scenario, the entire appropriation of $675 million would be used for grants, while administrative costs ($33.75 million) would be funded by the Salaries and Expenses account. The committee report also directed DHS to continue the practice of funding applications according to local priorities and those established by the USFA, and to continue direct funding to fire departments and the peer review process. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6) funds AFG and SAFER at $337 million each (equal to the FY2012 level minus a 0.1% across-the-board reduction). Additionally, AFG and SAFER are subject to sequestration. Both programs are part of the State and Local Programs budget account within FEMA, which is subject to a 5.0% cut from the FY2013 level. According to the Congressional Fire Service Institute, AFG and SAFER are expected to be cut by 5%, which yields FY2013 budget levels of $320 million for AFG and $320 million for SAFER.3 However, the amount of grant money available for AFG and SAFER is expected to be virtually unchanged from FY2012. This is because P.L. 113-6 provides that administrative costs are to be derived from the FEMA Salaries and Expense account, rather than 3 Congressional Fire Service Institute, “Congress Approves Fiscal Year 2013 Spending Measure,” March 21, 2013, available at http://www.cfsi.org/news/cfsiupdate.cfm?pr_ID=148. Congressional Research Service 7 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding (as is typically the case) from a 5% carve-out from the firefighter assistance (AFG and SAFER) appropriations account. FY2014 The Administration’s FY2014 budget proposes $670 million for firefighter assistance, including $335 million for AFG (of which $20 million supports Fire Prevention and Safety) and $335 million for SAFER. Funding for management and administration would be drawn from a separate FEMA account (Salaries and Expenses). The Firefighter Assistance Grants would be categorized under First Responder Assistance Programs (FRAP), one of three activities under FEMA’s State and Local Programs (SLP) appropriation. Fire Station Construction Grants in the ARRA Since its inception, the traditional fire grant program has provided money specifically for health and safety related modifications of fire stations, but has not funded major upgrades, renovations, or construction. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) provided an additional $210 million in firefighter assistance grants for modifying, upgrading, or constructing state and local non-federal fire stations, provided that 5% be set aside for program administration, and provided that no grant shall exceed $15 million. The conference report (H.Rept. 111-16) cited DHS estimates that this spending would create 2,000 jobs. The ARRA also included a provision (§603) that waived the matching requirement for SAFER grants funded by appropriations in FY2009 and FY2010. The application period for ARRA Assistance to Firefighters Fire Station Construction Grants (SCG) opened on June 11 and closed on July 10, 2009. There is no cost share requirement for SCG grants. Eligible applicants are non-federal fire departments that provide fire protection services to local communities. Ineligible applicants include federal fire departments, EMS or rescue organizations, airport fire departments, for-profit fire departments, fire training centers, emergency communications centers, auxiliaries and fire service organizations or associations, and search and rescue teams or similar organizations without fire suppression responsibilities. DHS/FEMA received 6,025 SCG applications for $9.9 billion in federal funds.4 As of October 1, 2010, 119 SCG grants were awarded, totaling $207.461 million to fire departments within the United States. A complete list of SCG awards is available at http://www.fema.gov/rules-tools/ assistance-firefighters-station-construction-grants. On February 15, 2011, the Firefighting Investment, Renewal, and Employment Act or FIRE Act (H.R. 716) was introduced to authorize $210 million for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016 for competitive grants for modifying, upgrading, or constructing nonfederal fire stations. 4 Detailed SCG application statistics are available at http://www.firegrantsupport.com/docs/2009AFSCGAppStats.pdf. Congressional Research Service 8 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding SAFER Grants In response to concerns over the adequacy of firefighter staffing, the 108th Congress enacted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act as Section 1057 of the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136; signed into law November 24, 2003). The SAFER grant program is codified as Section 34 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 (15 U.S.C. 2229a). The SAFER Act authorizes grants to career, volunteer, and combination fire departments for the purpose of increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards. Also authorized are grants to volunteer fire departments for activities related to the recruitment and retention of volunteers. For more information on the SAFER program, see CRS Report RL33375, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program, by Lennard G. Kruger. Program Evaluation On May 13, 2003, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) released the first independent evaluation of the Assistance to Firefighters Program. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Leadership Development Academy Executive Potential Program, the survey study presented a number of recommendations and concluded overall that the program was “highly effective in improving the readiness and capabilities of firefighters across the nation.”5 Another evaluation of the fire grant program was released by the DHS Office of Inspector General in September 2003. The report concluded that the program “succeeded in achieving a balanced distribution of funding through a competitive grant process,”6 and made a number of specific recommendations for improving the program. At the request of DHS, the National Academy of Public Administration conducted a study to help identify potential new strategic directions for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program and to provide advice on how to effectively plan, manage, and measure program accomplishments. Released in April 2007, the report recommended consideration of new strategic directions related to national preparedness, prevention vs. response, social equity, regional cooperation, and emergency medical response. According to the report, the “challenge for the AFG program will be to support a gradual shift in direction without losing major strengths of its current management approach—including industry driven priority setting and its well-respected peer review process.”7 The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-161), in the accompanying Joint Explanatory Statement, directed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the application and award process for fire and SAFER grants. Additionally, FEMA was directed to peer review grant applications that best address the program’s priorities and criteria as established 5 For full report see http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/affgp-fy01-usda-report.pdf. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspections, Evaluations, and Special Reviews, “A Review of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program,” OIG-ISP-01-03, September 2003, p. 3. Available at http://www.dhs.gov/ xoig/assets/mgmtrpts/OIG_Review_Fire_Assist.pdf. 7 National Academy of Public Administration, Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program: Assessing Performance, April 2007, p. xvii. Available at http://www.napawash.org/pc_management_studies/ Fire_Grants_Report_April2007.pdf. 6 Congressional Research Service 9 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding by FEMA and the fire service. Those criteria necessary for peer-review must be included in the grant application package. Applicants whose grant applications are not reviewed must receive an official notification detailing why the application did not meet the criteria for review. Applications must be rank-ordered, and funded following the rank order. In October 2009, GAO sent a report to Congress finding that FEMA has met most statutory requirements for awarding fire grants.8 GAO recommended that FEMA establish a procedure to track EMS awards, ensure that grant priorities are better aligned with application questions and scoring values, and provide specific feedback to rejected applicants. In June 2011, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released its Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, which seeks to identify gaps and needs in the fire service, and measures the impact that fire grants have had on filling those gaps and needs. According to the study: Needs have declined to a considerable degree in a number of areas, particularly personal protective and firefighting equipment, two types of resource that received the largest shares of funding from the Assistance to Firefighters grants (AFG). Declines in needs have been more modest in some other important areas, such as training, which have received much smaller shares of AFG grant funds.9 Reports Mandated by Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2012 P.L. 112-239 mandates reports and studies on the AFG and SAFER programs, as well as on the state of the fire service. • FEMA is directed to develop a performance assessment system to evaluate AFG and SAFER grants. FEMA shall submit annual reports to Congress providing information on its performance assessment system, an evaluation of AFG and SAFER grant effectiveness, and recommendations for legislative changes to improve grant effectiveness. • The Comptroller General is directed to submit a report to Congress assessing the effect of the amendments to the AFG and SAFER statute made by the Fire Grants Reauthorization of 2012. • The United States Fire Administration (USFA) is directed to conduct a study on the level of compliance with national voluntary consensus standards for staffing, training, safe operations, personal protective equipment, and fitness among the fire services of the United States. • The Secretary of Homeland Security is directed to establish a Task Force to Enhance Firefighter Safety, which will review the USFA study on fire service standards and develop a plan to enhance firefighter safety by increasing fire 8 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Fire Grants: FEMA Has Met Most Requirements for Awarding Fire Grants, but Additional Actions Would Improve Its Grant Process, GAO-10-64, October 2009, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/ d1064.pdf. 9 National Fire Protection Association, Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, June 2011, abstract. Available at http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files//2011NeedsAssessment.pdf. Congressional Research Service 10 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding service standards compliance. The Task Force will report its findings to Congress and DHS. • USFA is directed to conduct a study and report on the needs of the fire service. Distribution of Fire Grants The AFG statute prescribes different purposes for which fire grant money may be used. These are training firefighting personnel; creating rapid intervention teams; certifying fire inspectors and building inspectors whose responsibilities include fire safety inspections and who are associated with a fire department; establishing wellness and fitness programs, including mental health programs; funding emergency medical services (EMS) provided by fire departments and nonaffiliated EMS organizations; acquiring firefighting vehicles; acquiring firefighting equipment; acquiring personal protective equipment; modifying fire stations, fire training facilities, and other facilities for health and safety; educating the public about arson prevention and detection; providing incentives for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters; and supporting other activities as FEMA determines appropriate. FEMA has the discretion to decide which of those purposes will be funded for a given grant year. Since the program commenced in FY2001, the majority of fire grant funding has been used by fire departments to purchase firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment, and firefighting vehicles. Eligible applicants are limited primarily to fire departments (defined as an agency or organization that has a formally recognized arrangement with a state, local, or tribal authority to provide fire suppression, fire prevention, and rescue services to a population within a fixed geographical area). Emergency Medical Services (EMS) activities are eligible for fire grants, including a limited number to EMS organizations not affiliated with hospitals. Additionally, a separate competition is held for fire prevention and firefighter safety research and development grants, which are available to fire departments; national, state, local, tribal, or nonprofit organizations recognized for their fire safety or prevention expertise; and to institutions of higher education, national fire service organizations, or national fire safety organizations to establish and operate fire safety research centers. For official program and application guidelines, frequently-asked-questions, the latest awards announcements, and other information, see the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program web page at http://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistancefirefighters-grant-program. The FIRE Act statute provides overall guidelines on how fire grant money will be distributed. Previously, the law directed that volunteer and combination departments receive a proportion of the total grant funding that is not less than the proportion of the U.S. population that those departments protect (34% for combination, 21% for all-volunteer). Reflecting concerns that career fire departments (which are primarily in urban and suburban areas) were not receiving adequate levels of funding, the Fire Grants Authorization Act of 2012 alters the distribution formula, directing that not less than 25% of annual AFG funding go to career fire departments, not less than 25% to volunteer fire departments, not less than 25% to combination and paid-oncall fire departments, and not less than 10% for open competition among career, volunteer, combination, and paid-on-call fire departments. Additionally, P.L. 112-239 raises award caps (up to $9 million) and lowers matching requirements for fire departments serving higher population areas. Congressional Research Service 11 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding There is no set geographical formula for the distribution of fire grants—fire departments throughout the nation apply, and award decisions are made by a peer panel based on the merits of the application and the needs of the community. However, the law does require that fire grants should be distributed to a diverse mix of fire departments, with respect to type of department (paid, volunteer, or combination), geographic location, and type of community served (e.g., urban, suburban, or rural).10 The Fire Act’s implementing regulation provides that In a few cases, to fulfill our obligations under the law to make grants to a variety of departments, we may also make funding decisions using rank order as the preliminary basis, and then analyze the type of fire department (paid, volunteer, or combination fire departments), the size and character of the community it serves (urban, suburban, or rural), and/or the geographic location of the fire department. In these instances where we are making decisions based on geographic location, we will use States as the basic geographic unit.11 Additionally, each fire department that applies is classified as either urban, suburban, or rural. In FY2010, 75.1% of applications were received from rural fire departments, 17.7% from suburban, and 7.2% from urban. This translated into rural departments requesting 66.7% of federal funds, suburban departments requesting 21.5%, and urban departments requesting 11.8%.12 Finally, in an effort to maximize the diversity of awardees, the geographic location of an applicant (using states as the basic geographic unit) is used as a deciding factor in cases where applicants have similar qualifications. Table 4 shows a state-by-state breakdown of fire grant funding for FY2001 through FY2011, while Table 5 shows a state-by-state breakdown of SAFER grant funding for FY2005 through FY2010. Table 6 provides an in-depth look at the FY2010 fire grants, showing, for each state, the number of fire grant applications, the total amount requested, the total amount awarded, and the amount of funds awarded as a percentage of funds requested. As Table 6 shows, the entire pool of fire department applicants received about 13% of the funds they requested in FY2010. This compares to 16% in FY2009, 15% in FY2008, 16% in FY2007, 21% in FY2006, 22% in FY2005, 28% in FY2004, and 34% in FY2003. The downward trend reflects the fact that the number of applications and the amount of federal funds requested have trended upward over the years, while appropriations for the fire grant program have typically declined over the same period. Issues in the 113th Congress The 113th Congress will likely consider FY2014 and FY2015 budget appropriations for AFG and SAFER. As is the case with many federal programs, concerns over the federal budget deficit could impact budget levels for AFG and SAFER. At the same time, firefighter assistance budgets will likely receive heightened scrutiny from the fire community, given the local budgetary cutbacks that many fire departments are now facing. The 113th Congress will also likely examine the impact of new grant distribution guidelines mandated by P.L. 112-239, the Fire Grant Authorization Act of 2012. The continuing issue is how 10 15 U.S.C. 2229(b)(9). 44 CFR Part 152.6(c). 12 Ibid. 11 Congressional Research Service 12 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding effectively grants are being distributed and used to protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire-related hazards. Table 4. State-by-State Distribution of AFG Grants, FY2001-FY2011 (millions of dollars) FY01 FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10 FY11 Total AL 3.085 12.503 23.329 25.097 20.836 22.027 19.903 23.332 19.966 14.591 18.591 203.26 AK 1.303 2.641 5.242 2.522 3.111 0.754 2.454 0.990 0.935 0.568 0.568 21.088 AZ 1.37 3.6 7.490 9.808 7.905 4.041 4.932 5.440 4.716 2.873 4.952 57.127 AR 1.337 4.635 10.675 13.680 10.402 7.699 7.799 7.107 8.174 5.111 4.253 80.872 CA 5.905 18.978 30.060 29.793 25.631 17.856 18.730 26.198 23.644 21.764 35.334 253.893 CO 1.003 3.968 6.168 5.585 6.073 3.213 4.742 2.490 6.11 3.369 5.213 47.934 CT 1.828 4.675 10.841 9.991 7.287 5.479 6.630 6.925 5.231 3.166 3.67 65.723 DE 0.132 0.372 1.096 1.755 1.161 1.107 0.518 0.231 1.251 0.282 0.366 8.271 DC 0 0.22 0 0 0.453 0 0.376 1.171 0 0.368 1.38 3.968 FL 2.865 10.16 16.344 15.969 17.922 6.787 8.288 6. 738 12.581 12.557 16.2 126.411 GA 2.375 6.079 13.791 11.857 10.168 8.887 9.068 7.959 8.981 6.192 5.174 90.531 HI 0 1.182 0.947 0.864 1.205 0.264 0.436 0.772 0.609 0.261 1.534 8.074 ID 0.916 2.744 6.001 4.828 4.684 2.712 4.297 2.687 2.883 2.361 0.439 34.552 IL 2.417 13.398 28.810 27.238 25.433 21.120 21.923 21.325 25.24 14.809 12.753 214.466 IN 2.703 8.739 20.456 18.646 15.779 14.447 13.831 13.092 15.179 10.759 7.728 141.359 IA 1.301 7.284 16.087 16.430 13.119 10.064 9.298 9.877 9.695 5.818 6.629 105.602 KS 1.153 5.118 10.850 10.211 7.165 4.984 5.502 3.928 6.682 3.055 3.072 61.72 KY 2.215 7.896 19.832 16.150 14.215 13.308 13.081 17.153 13.108 8.081 5.426 130.465 LA 3.344 10.084 12.248 11.101 11.630 6.935 5.473 7.033 8.073 4.414 6.337 86.672 ME 1.296 4.319 10.323 10.031 6.124 6.702 5.486 4.904 3.462 1.348 2.118 56.113 MD 0.739 4.08 8.153 10.227 8.771 10.368 7.712 5.525 5.221 4.545 4.524 69.865 MA 2.301 8.386 15.715 13.958 13.529 8.957 11.644 9.532 11.957 8.083 10.679 114.741 MI 2.815 8.948 17.247 20.005 15.088 15.798 15.399 15.482 18.045 9.502 16.904 155.233 MN 2.133 8.149 17.510 18.609 14.894 14.718 16.600 13.082 17.253 18.923 10.638 152.509 MS 1.763 6.755 15.679 11.329 9.856 7.885 8.052 7.761 8.436 5.66 3.694 86.87 MO 3.079 10.291 19.573 17.757 14.246 13.202 10.611 11.589 12.973 9.21 7.594 130.125 MT 1.164 3.726 8.361 7.271 6.656 5.839 7.330 4.670 5.179 3.204 0.725 54.125 NE 1.034 2.392 7.820 6.577 5.116 4.399 4.443 4.324 4.341 0.441 1.378 42.265 NV 0.282 1.446 3.312 1.405 1.946 0.857 1.530 0.687 0.855 1.437 0.564 14.321 NH 0.594 1.887 4.584 5.694 4.563 3.307 3.219 2.723 2.834 1.496 1.69 32.591 NJ 2.596 6.339 19.982 16.488 14.691 12.386 13.266 13.201 15.502 9.687 10.402 134.54 NM 1.455 3.463 5.048 3.653 2.259 1.461 1.367 1.101 1.605 1.632 2.122 25.166 NY 3.978 14.728 34.320 35.030 36.009 33.804 22.664 30.204 23.235 13.367 10.253 257.592 NC 1.949 10.239 22.864 22.360 19.315 18.309 20.031 18.460 20.881 13.137 13.864 181.409 ND 0.546 2.613 5.105 3.391 2.673 2.459 3.100 3.297 2.527 1.594 0.71 28.015 Congressional Research Service 13 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding FY01 FY02 FY03 FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10 FY11 Total OH 2.731 13.742 26.997 29.107 27.344 25.380 26.433 26.938 33.164 20.168 23.281 255.285 OK 1.864 4.939 10.540 10.393 8.757 10.852 7.220 6.875 7.239 3.527 3.187 75.393 OR 1.596 4.892 9.896 10.122 10.014 9.288 5.943 8.438 5.986 6.332 5.59 78.097 PA 2.89 16.97 45.179 47.898 39.233 41.259 43.610 41.041 37.231 19.623 26.227 361.161 RI 0.407 1.507 2.327 1.917 2.129 2.025 0.855 1.395 2.46 1.533 2.314 18.869 SC 1.554 5.257 11.832 14.150 10.544 8.028 10.470 11.040 11.227 8.684 4.948 97.734 SD 0.904 3.142 5.602 4.693 3.570 2.989 2.474 2.069 2.527 0.753 1.135 29.858 TN 2.46 11.509 19.306 18.686 15.047 11.209 12.955 16.074 13.311 11.259 6.268 138.084 TX 3.697 15.644 29.264 30.118 23.480 18.035 17.691 20.458 19.469 9.941 11.031 198.828 UT 0.9 2.754 4.628 3.880 2.188 2.213 3.378 0.934 2.295 2.985 0.883 27.038 VT 0.451 1.971 5.163 4.747 2.071 1.456 1.820 1.046 1.974 0.689 0.498 21.886 VA 2.066 8.79 15.816 16.668 14.357 8.317 10.403 8.370 6.405 5.991 3.5 100.683 WA 1.535 7.544 18.808 19.565 15.763 16.150 12.951 13.050 10.064 7.961 7.341 130.732 WV 1.067 3.966 9.942 9.133 10.143 5.838 7.164 7.238 5.331 5.074 2.173 67.069 WI 2.077 7.518 18.234 19.668 17.685 13.994 19.439 15.216 15.17 9.569 8.635 147.205 WY 1.09 1.612 3.507 1.811 2.032 1.197 1.645 1.023 1.427 0.086 0.488 15.918 PR 0.657 0.382 1.643 1.140 1.104 0.528 0.019 0.074 1.154 0 0.876 7.577 MP 0.145 0.225 0 0 0.220 0.172 0 0 0 0 0 0 GU 0 0.016 0 0 0 0.287 0 0 0 0 0 0 AS 0.164 0 0 0.284 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 VI 0.741 0 0.544 0 0 0 0 0.233 0 0 0 0 91.97 334.41 695.09 679.29 585.59 491.35 494.20 492.50 503.79 337.84 345.85 5051.9 Source: Department of Homeland Security. Congressional Research Service 14 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Table 5. State-by-State Distribution of SAFER Grants, FY2005-FY2011 (millions of dollars) FY2005 FY2006 FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 Total Alabama 1.611 6.215 4.236 7.314 4.288 8.531 1.293 33.488 Alaska 1.051 0.205 0.418 1.438 0.328 6.072 0.074 9.586 Arizona 1.560 3.559 4.428 6.613 6.768 10.357 2.809 36.094 Arkansas 0.394 1.820 0.377 3.834 0.976 2.206 1.136 10.743 California 5.221 5.212 4.259 4 .212 31.501 63.13 56.356 169.891 Colorado 1.584 3.479 1.730 2.02 0.955 3.384 5.432 18.584 Connecticut 0.130 0.191 0.856 3.92 2.214 1.312 5.099 13.722 Delaware 0 0.135 0 0.398 0 1.723 0 2.256 District of Columbia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Florida 6.576 9.329 6.217 17.185 24.105 17.721 30.494 111.627 Georgia 5.354 2.085 2.842 17.438 4.844 10.384 1.273 44.22 0 1.626 0 0.1 0 1.726 Hawaii 0 0 Idaho 0.063 0.621 0.626 0.774 1.336 2.897 4.068 10.385 Illinois 1.340 4.463 9.933 5.85 2.496 10.848 2.456 37.386 0 0.099 2.687 4.577 8.295 9.931 4.587 30.176 Iowa 0.169 0.144 0.980 1.288 1.045 0.081 1.604 5.311 Kansas 0.667 0.045 1.029 1.872 2.806 2.285 0.381 9.085 Kentucky 0.152 2.890 0.429 2.466 0.338 0.893 0.155 7.323 Louisiana 3.430 3.078 4.728 8.62 10.515 0.182 1.672 32.225 Maine 0.081 0 0.316 0.951 0.739 1.047 0.518 3.652 Maryland 0.096 1.862 1.526 3.171 4.429 2.145 4.299 17.528 Massachusetts 1.300 2.079 4.372 2.690 18.385 34.422 23.127 86.375 Michigan 1.759 0.592 0 0.628 13.286 22.493 47.646 86.404 Minnesota 0.300 1.089 0.375 3.246 1.256 0.789 4.463 11.518 Mississippi 0.756 0.594 0.115 1.608 0 1.209 0.488 4.77 Missouri 1.467 3.547 4.551 2.381 1.474 5.618 10.619 29.657 Montana 0.034 0.255 2.635 2.955 0.458 0.973 1.252 8.562 0 0.873 0.632 1.951 0.802 0.493 0 4.751 Nevada 1.500 1.714 0.632 0.086 0.577 2.459 13.438 20.406 New Hampshire 0.400 1.035 1.528 0.225 0 0.353 1.479 5.02 New Jersey 6.374 3.971 2.953 4.389 0.556 56.648 18.073 92.964 0 3.123 1.309 0.108 0.499 1.854 0 6.893 New York 1.540 2.991 2.845 4.412 8.227 18.239 6.142 44.396 North Carolina 2.155 5.533 5.371 18.183 2.256 6.375 5.833 45.706 Indiana Nebraska New Mexico Congressional Research Service 15 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding FY2005 North Dakota FY2006 FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 FY2010 FY2011 Total 0 0.609 0 1.518 1.517 2.139 0.048 5.831 Ohio 1.319 1.881 2.255 3.737 29.606 21.04 18.654 78.492 Oklahoma 0.147 0.699 0.531 2.782 0 9.127 1.435 14.721 Oregon 1.710 2.141 2.649 2.071 0.677 6.814 8.354 23.768 Pennsylvania 1.244 1.475 2.633 3.515 1.176 7.926 13.831 31.8 Rhode Island 0.400 0 0.105 0 1.561 4.249 3.108 9.423 South Carolina 0.456 0.863 3.218 8.158 2.41 2.064 2.147 19.316 South Dakota 0.063 0.311 0.211 0.552 0 0.648 0.255 2.04 Tennessee 2.700 2.719 3.683 1.856 1.148 7.374 0.993 20.473 Texas 0.951 10.961 8.779 19.06 3.158 12.65 2.881 58.44 Utah 0.900 3.312 2.098 3.955 1.824 4.583 0.208 16.88 0 0.621 0.632 0 0.119 0 0 1.372 Virginia 2.091 3.554 0.782 1.849 4.891 8.995 4.978 27.14 Washington 2.298 2.897 7.340 9.476 2.847 13.779 16.139 54.776 West Virginia 0 0.187 0.681 0.16 0.287 0.398 0 1.713 Wisconsin 0 0.072 1.223 4.502 0 0.12 3.101 9.018 Wyoming 0 0 0.316 2.329 0.263 0.997 1.148 5.053 Puerto Rico 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Northern Mariana Islands 0 0 0 0 0 1.404 0 1.404 Marshall Islands 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Guam 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 American Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.474 0.474 Virgin Islands 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Republic of Palau 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 113.665 203.964 207.258 Vermont Total 61.356 105.142 410.833 334.03 1434.564 Source: Department of Homeland Security. Congressional Research Service 16 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding Table 6. Requests and Awards for AFG Funding, FY2010 State Number of applications Alabama Federal funds requested ($millions) Federal funds awarded ($millions) Funds awarded as a % of funds requested 674 96.316 14.591 15.15% Alaska 45 9.954 0.568 5.71% Arizona 126 27.556 2.873 10.43% Arkansas 300 44.642 5.111 11.45% California 455 105.692 21.764 20.59% Colorado 162 30.098 3.369 11.19% Connecticut 201 37.739 3.166 8.39% 21 3.569 0.282 7.90% 2 0.447 0.368 82.33% Florida 253 55.369 12.557 22.68% Georgia 298 49.05 6.192 12.62% Delaware District of Columbia Hawaii 2 0.534 0.261 48.88% Idaho 94 14.085 2.361 16.76% Illinois 679 116.024 14.809 12.76% Indiana 386 58.256 10.759 18.47% Iowa 369 45.45 5.818 12.80% Kansas 203 27.591 3.055 11.07% Kentucky 451 72.725 8.081 11.11% Louisiana 197 33.435 4.414 13.20% Maine 192 24.753 1.348 5.45% Maryland 162 28.625 4.545 15.88% Massachusetts 301 57.184 8.083 14.14% Michigan 551 84.256 9.502 11.28% Minnesota 419 69.131 18.923 27.37% Mississippi 335 44.81 5.66 12.63% Missouri 428 53.502 9.21 17.21% Montana 141 21.442 3.204 14.94% Nebraska 133 17.792 0.441 2.48% 25 5.142 1.437 27.95% New Hampshire 110 16.886 1.496 8.86% New Jersey 484 87.821 9.687 11.03% New Mexico 63 11.924 1.632 13.69% Nevada New York 975 136.33 13.367 9.80% North Carolina 645 102.416 13.137 12.83% North Dakota 91 13.401 1.594 11.89% Congressional Research Service 17 Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding State Number of applications Federal funds requested ($millions) Federal funds awarded ($millions) Funds awarded as a % of funds requested Ohio 950 156.989 20.168 12.85% Oklahoma 241 31.97 3.527 11.03% Oregon 171 30.766 6.332 20.58% Pennsylvania 1641 229.005 19.623 8.57% Rhode Island 57 14.264 1.533 10.75% South Carolina 378 50.393 8.684 17.23% South Dakota 117 16.182 0.753 4.65% Tennessee 517 78.254 11.259 14.39% Texas 593 94.696 9.941 10.50% Utah 93 16.076 2.985 18.57% Vermont 84 11.737 0.689 5.87% Virginia 237 43.841 5.991 13.67% Washington 275 46.474 7.961 17.13% West Virginia 273 44.61 5.074 11.37% Wisconsin 584 80.314 9.569 11.91% Wyoming 35 3.623 0.086 2.37% Puerto Rico 8 1.499 0 0.00% Northern Marianas 1 0.56 0 0.00% Virgin Islands 2 0.355 0 0.00% Guam 1 0.224 0 0.00% 16,231 2555.779 Total 337.840 13.22% Source: Department of Homeland Security. Author Contact Information Lennard G. Kruger Specialist in Science and Technology Policy lkruger@crs.loc.gov, 7-7070 Congressional Research Service 18