Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I submitted an application and heard that my agency's project was selected / approved. Can I start spending money?
A: NO. You will not be reimbursed for any purchases made prior to the receipt of an official award letter from Tulare County OES. You also may not have been awarded all of the items or the full amount that you requested.
Q: How do I know when I can begin spending money?
A: You will be notified that your award binder is ready to be picked up from Tulare County OES. An authorized agent (someone designated to carry out the financial management of the grant) must pick up the award binder and review its contents with the grant administrator.
Q: Can I spend Homeland Security money on something other than what I requested?
A: Generally, no. The Homeland Security Grant requires you to submit a request to purchase specific items, and this request is approved by the local Approval Authority, the State, and the Federal government before you ever receive an award.
You may request a modification to your award, to allow you to spend the funds on other eligible equipment or activities, but you should expect to wait up to several months for a decision on such a request. You will not be reimbursed for any expenses incurred without prior approval. Remember that your project was competitively awarded funds - while other agencies' requests were denied - based on your original project request.
Q: Why was my project denied?
A: Projects are selected by the Approval Authority based on a number of factors. While these change from year to year, the focus is generally on projects that bring the most benefit to the entire Operational Area. For instance, a project that enhances a capability that is (or will be) shared amongst all agencies within Tulare County will take precedence over a project that only benefits a single agency.
Q: I've heard there are several "strings attached" to Homeland Security money. Is this true?
A: Yes. The Homeland Security Grant Program has several requirements, some of the more burdensome of which include NIMS compliance and reporting, financial record-keeping to DHS standards, grant audits, equipment inventory, and maintaining equipment in a state ready to deploy with qualified and trained personnel. Colloquially, you may think of all equipment purchased with Homeland Security funds as belonging to the Federal government and simply operated, housed, and maintained by your agency.
Q: Can I buy radios with Homeland Security funds that are not "Project 25" compliant?
A: No. California Government Code Section 8592.5(b) states, in part, that "a local first response agency that purchases public safety radio equipment, in whole or in part, with state funds or federal funds administered by the state, shall ensure that the equipment purchased complies with [the Project 25 Standard] and [the operational and functional requirements delineated in the Statement of Requirements for Public Safety Wireless Communications and Interoperability developed by the SAFECOM Program]."
There are two exceptions, the first of which is for "radios purchased for use with existing systems where the latest standards will not be compatible" (as verified by DGS); this exception does not excuse P25 compliance, as P25 is simply an additional set of standards & functionality on top of traditional analog operation, that do not interfere with or preclude traditional analog operation. The second exception is for radios used on existing statewide low-band radio systems; this exception would allow the purchase of radios to communicate with the California Highway Patrol.
Q: Can I buy extended warranties, maintenance plans, or repair/replacement plans?
A: To sustain current capabilities, sub-recipients can purchase extended warranties, maintenance plans, and/or repair replacement plans, and these purchases can now extend past the performance period. However, items that are considered normal "wear and tear" are not eligible for reimbursement. This category can include oil changes, tires for vehicles, etc.
Q: Does the grant replace lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed equipment?
A: No. Any equipment that is lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed must be reported to Tulare County OES and investigated by the appropriate agency having jurisdiction. The results of the investigation must be sent to Tulare County OES to become part of your grant file. Any replacement costs shall be borne by your agency.