The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program is a DHS-funded grant whose primary mission is to assist large urban areas and other jurisdictions in their regions with prevention of, protection from, response to, recovery from, and mitigation of the effects of acts of terrorism. The UASI program in the Houston region (hereafter “the Houston UASI” or “the UASI”) is centered on the City of Houston, and serves the five counties in southeast Texas in which the City resides or which the City abuts (Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, and Montgomery) as well as all other cities within those counties.
The Houston UASI is overseen by the Urban Area Working Group (UAWG) consisting of the following members:
- The UASI Executive Committee chairs the UAWG and has representatives from the City of Houston and the three counties in which the City resides: Fort Bend, Harris, and Montgomery. The Executive Committee also determines grant funding allocations; approves the chairs, co-chairs, and vice-chairs of standing committees; and develops regional program policies and guidance.
- Additional jurisdictions and organizations have representation on the UAWG. These are the City of Pasadena, the Counties of Brazoria and Galveston, the Port of Houston/Area Maritime Security Committee, METRO, and the State Administrative Authority (as a non-voting member).
Each of the UASI standing committees is represented on the UAWG. The committees also handle much of the UASI’s regular business, including providing input on grant proposals, monitoring the status of funded projects, and overseeing plans, training, and exercises for their areas of expertise. See each committee’s page for more information (some pages may be limited only to those with approved website access), including meeting schedules, voting member lists, and other procedures. The standing UASI committees are:
- Community Preparedness: Coordinate a regional approach to public emergency preparedness and awareness campaigns.
- First Responder – Fire: Ensure fire departments in the region are trained and equipped to respond to acts of terrorism.
- First Responder – Law Enforcement: Ensure law enforcement agencies in the region are trained and equipped to respond to acts of terrorism.
- Health and Medical: Ensure regional coordination among the public health and medical sectors regarding the preparation for, protection against, and response to acts of terrorism.
- Intelligence and Information Sharing: Provide a coordinated system for collecting, validating, and disseminating intelligence products intended to prevent or mitigate acts of terrorism.
- Interoperable Communications: Ensure interoperable communications exist for public safety and emergency management staff in the region and provide a coordinated framework for maintaining and expanding these networks.
- Regional Collaboration: Provide for coordinated planning (including the use of regional technologies), training, and exercises throughout the region.
- Risk Management and Critical Infrastructure Protection: Implement the National Infrastructure Protection Plan within the region, securing our critical infrastructure and key resources.
UASI committees each have representation from across the region through their voting membership. Voting members are allocated to relevant jurisdictions and agencies and positions are approved by the UASI Executive Committee. Committees may also have non-voting members, but access to committee meetings is restricted.
The UASI program is guided by several documents (all are marked as For Official Use Only and are made available only to those with a documentable need to know). Those include:
- The Houston UASI Charter, which codifies the organizational structure and operating procedures for the UASI.
- The Houston UASI Strategic Plan, which lays out goals, objectives, and implementation steps for grant-funded programs and projects.
- The Threat Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (THIRA), which takes a risk-based approach to determining the homeland security needs of the region.
- The Stakeholder Preparedness Review (SPR), which provides metrics for determining homeland security protection and grant program effectiveness.