Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 22, 2005

Should states get in the nuclear detection business?

Filed under: Radiological & Nuclear Threats,State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on December 22, 2005

DHS has recently released its grant guidelines for FY 2006, which include details on all of the key DHS-administered grant programs for the current year. The full document is available here.

The guidelines seem similar to those last year, with one notable exception: the section on the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) and its relationship to state & local grant programs. To quote:

DNDO encourages States and regions to implement a comprehensive nuclear detection program capable of detecting nuclear weapons and radiological dispersal devices in support of and in concert with the national global nuclear detection architecture. DNDO believes that implementation of a comprehensive program will take several years, and will require substantial interstate and Federal coordination. As such, DNDO intends, to the extent possible, to partner with State, local, and Tribal agencies choosing to implement nuclear detection systems with regard to architecture design, subsystem configuration, upgrades and coordinated operations, communications and interoperability.

I’ve heard little in the past about involving states and cities in the nuclear detection business, rather than keeping this operationally at the federal level. There could be some long-run benefits from going down this path, but it’s not going to be easy, particularly in terms of training people to carry out nuclear detection and response activities.

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1 Comment »


Comment by Brian

December 22, 2005 @ 1:40 pm

It comes down to the cost and benefit. The obvious is that cites such New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angles should have the capability, but does Des Moines Iowa need to have the program.

In a larger picture we need to discern the role of the National and State governments. Which entity can do the job the best, (meaning who is more likely to catch or detect terrorism) and who is in the best position to accomplish the mission. However, we have too much duplication of effort in government services in some areas, and too much concentration at the national level in other, without any rhythm or reason.

One thing is clear; the federal government cannot do everything. However with the cockroaches that are infesting the capital, it will be extremely difficult to cut any federal government programs and allow the states to perform it.

It would seem that DHS needs to work out a little game theory and figure out which level of government is best capable of doing the mission, or if the needed, a combination. It seems DHS does not adhere to the central principle of the NRP, the idea of subsidiary-let the lowest level that is best suited do the task.

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