Johnson emphasizes importance of DHS partnerships with local officials

Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the DHS, said on Wednesday that partnerships with first responders, state officials and local officials are critical as more is learned about ever-evolving threats and hazards.

Johnson made the remarks at the National Homeland Security Association's 2014 National Homeland Security Conference in Philadelphia. He said the forging of partnerships with local officials and first responders strengthen safety and enhances security.

Johnson also discussed the DHS's efforts to enhance resilience and preparedness at all levels of government to build greater capabilities to protect against, mitigate, respond to, recover from and prevent various threats through grant funding.

In March, the DHS announced the fiscal year 2014 funding opportunity announcements for six DHS preparedness grant programs worth more than $1.6 billion. The programs include $587 million in Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding. UASI seeks to strengthen regional preparedness and capabilities for the 39 most high-risk, high-density urban areas in the U.S.

The "Strengthening Departmental Unity of Effort Initiative," which Johnson discussed on Wednesday, is a secretary-level priority meant to ensure the DHS invests and operates in a cohesive, unified fashion. He said the initiative would enhance efficiency and effectiveness while preserving and strengthening the value of individual DHS components. Johnson said the initiative would also further improve the DHS's role as an effective partner to cities and states.