The FY 2007 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security includes a moderate 4.8% increase in spending for the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) – from $1.47 billion to $1.54 billion. But within that total, the funding for the DNDO increases substantially: from $315m to $536m – a very wise investment by the department directed at our most consequential threat.
It’s unclear from initial budget documents what is cut from the rest of the S&T budget to offset this increase. The overview of S&T spending in the budget request is much less detailed than in previous years. While the FY 2006 budget request broke out S&T directorate by mission needs (biological countermeasures, radiological/nuclear countermeasures, counter-manpads research, etc.), the FY 2007 budget request does not provide that level of transparency in the documents I’ve seen so far.
The explanation of DNDO spending, however, does clarify DHS’ strategic intentions for the office:
The activities of the DNDO are driven by the global nuclear detection architecture, the preliminary version of which was completed in late 2005. Initial efforts focused on identifying gaps in the current â€˜â€˜baselineâ€™â€™ architecture. Subsequently, the activities of the DNDO are aligned to address these gaps through a balanced approach, providing improvements to the overall capacity, capability, and operability of the global nuclear detection system.
The 2007 Budget provides for two major research and development programs: a systems development program aimed at providing near-term technical solutions addressing pressing operational requirements; and a transformational research and development program to deliver long-term technology breakthroughs which will provide significant improvement to overall systems performance, cost, and operability.
The Analytical Perspectives report that is released with the budget request contains a government-wide analysis of Federal R&D that contains some interesting additional information on R&D for homeland security. It breaks R&D down into four categories: basic research, applied research, development, and facilities and equipment. The breakdown shows a strong intention by DHS to shift in the direction of the latter two categories in the FY 2007 budget.
Basic research would decline from $95m to $49m in the FY 2007 budget, i.e. from 6.4% to 3.2% of total R&D spending. Applied research would decline from $1093m to $943m, i.e. from 73.7% to 62.5% of total spending. Meanwhile, development-related spending would increase from $195m to $335m (13.1% to 22.2%); and spending on “facilities and equipment” would increase from $101m to $180m (6.8% to 12.0%).
These are significant changes to the R&D focus of DHS. Perhaps these statistics are partially a function of the increased funding for the DNDO in FY 2007 (which is more mission-focused), but I don’t think that’s the only reason. It makes sense that DHS would be starting to harvest some of its initial research investments from its first four years of existence and shifting its allocation of funds from “research” to “development.”
Update (2/7): The DHS Budget in Brief was put on the Department’s website on Tuesday morning, and it provides more information on the breakdown of funds in the S&T directorate. Some highlights:
- Biological Countermeasures declines from $376m to $337m.
- Chemical Countermeasures declines from $94m to $83m.
- Explosives Countermeasures nearly doubles from $44m to $87m (perhaps as a result of the imperative for new technologies for standoff IED detection).
- The Standards program gets cut from $35m to $22m.
- Critical Infrastructure Protection R&D declines from $40m to $15m.
- Counter-MANPADS basically gets shut down, going from $109m to $5m.
- The University Fellowship program gets cut from $62m to $51m.
- The “Management and Administration” account more than doubles, from $80m to $195m.
I have a mixed reaction to these budget shifts. For example, I think DHS is probably right to want to table the MANPADS program after FY 2006, and there’s been some recent evidence that the DHS fellowship program hasn’t really had its intended impact on DHS’s workforce, in which case a cut is appropriate. But I’m a bit concerned by the cuts to the Critical Infrastructure Protection and Standards programs, because I think there’s a lot of work to do still in these two areas. And I don’t understand the large shift of funds to the “Management and Administration” account. No justification is given in the budget documents for this shift, and in the absence of that information, my first reaction is that this looks like bureaucracy-building. I hope this is not the case.