The Department of Homeland Security, created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with the primary mission of protecting the United States , is the focus of a research project at West Virginia University.

Brian Gerber, assistant professor of public administration in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, received an $80,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the project,Intergovernmental Challenges of Homeland Security: Explaining Local Government Preparedness Efforts.

The study addresses the factors that lead to nationwide differences in local governmental efforts to prepare for the hazard of terrorism.

According to Gerber, the substantive policy-making problem is that local government capacity for and commitment to preparedness for natural or technological hazards is uneven across the U.S. Preparedness factors include planning activities, placement of resources and personnel training.

This variation in policy effort is important because effective homeland security relies on local governments to be proactive in dealing with potential terror incidents.

If some, or many local governments are either unwilling or unable to be proactive, then the nation is more likely to suffer adverse effects if a terror event occurs,Gerber said.

The project also seeks to understand the intergovernmental coordination challenges of homeland security and how effectively local governments operate within disaster management policy systems.

The NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and through cooperative agreements with more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the U.S. Of the approximately 40,000 grant proposals that are received by NSF each year, 11,000 are funded.

For more information regarding the project, contact Dr. Gerber at 304-293-2614, ext. 3154, or at .