Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 29, 2007

U/S Foresman Resigns

Filed under: DHS News — by Jonah Czerwinski on March 29, 2007

DHS Undersecretary of Preparedness George Foresman tendered his resignation today. The President nominated U/S Foresman October 21, 2005, after Foresman served as Homeland Security Advisor to Virginia Governor Warner.  Per tradition, just about every senior political appointee was given a choice soon after the mid-term elections last year: step down now or stay through the end of the term.  The timing makes it easy for those desiring a change for whatever reason to resign after surviving an election.  But if anyone stays, it is expected that they stick it out because filling those jobs with only 18-montsh left or less is pretty tough — especially if those posts are Senate confirmed.  No president wants a department run by acting under secretaries.  And so this timing makes me wonder.  Perhaps he just wants to spend time with his family…

Update 4/2:  I should have been more explicit in this post by noting the obvious: The position of U/S for Preparedness won’t exist any longer due to organizational changes that include  shifting Preparedness responsibilities to a new National Protection and Programs directorate and FEMA. (Thanks to reader JJ for keeping me in line.)

Statement by Secretary Chertoff follows:

Statement by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on the RESIGNATION of UNDER SECRETARY GEORGE FORESMAN

March 29, 2007Today, I accepted the resignation of George Foresman as Under Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, effective in the coming weeks. George has given me and the entire senior leadership team wise counsel in addressing complex homeland security challenges under trying conditions.George is an exceptional professional who has shown a steadfast commitment to the ideals of leadership by example. Prior to coming to the department, George spent more than 20 years in local and state government in Virginia and is respected around the country for his bi-partisanship and expertise. Through his tireless dedication, George helped sharpen the federal government’s focus in the areas of infrastructure protection, including the security of chemical facilities, national information technology and telecommunications systems, and he has been instrumental in leading refinements to our grants processes, approaches to risk management, use of biometrics, and communications interoperability.I am grateful for George’s service to the American public and his lasting contributions to the security of our homeland. I regret seeing him leave, and look forward to our continued friendship.

March 27, 2007

New Nuc Defense R&D Investments Made

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Radiological & Nuclear Threats,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on March 27, 2007

If the Iraq supplemental bill (HR1591) becomes law, Congress will have added $400 million to the DNDO bank for purchasing radiation portal monitors to be placed at weak points along the borders.  This is in addition to the FY08 request in which DNDO’s overall budget is ~$500mil. 

In the meantime, DHS moves forward with another outlay to accelerate the research side of the equation.  Balancing the immediate needs for deployable technology and long-term needs for more effective nuclear defense capabilities is a difficult objective.  Observers usually prefer that investments show a near-term payoff ($400mil for more RPMs that show up on the border within months), but the real payoff in which game-changing capabilities reduce the likelihood of an attack while supporting the other nuclear non-proliferation imperatives takes years.

This is today’s press release from DHS:


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) announced ten contract awards today totaling $8.8 million to nine companies that will perform exploratory research in advanced nuclear detection technology.  The Exploratory Research Program is designed to transform nuclear detection technology by funding aggressive research and development that is unconstrained by pre-existing user expectations and initial technical risks.

The nine companies selected are: Alliant Techsystems Incorporated, Mission Research Division; Canberra; EIC Laboratories, Incorporated; General Electric Global Research Center (two awards); Physical Optics Corporation; Radiation Monitoring Devices, Incorporated; Rapiscan Systems Corporation; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); and Westinghouse Electric Company.

Each contract consists of multiple phases, including an advanced technology demonstration, before potentially transitioning to a systems development and acquisition program.  Successful technologies will be deployed to provide port-of-entry (POE) and non-POE radiological and nuclear detection capability.

Earlier this year, DHS announced the award of Exploratory Research Cooperative Agreements with Academia totaling approximately $3.1 million to make significant advances in basic nuclear detection technology.  Seven universities were awarded cooperative agreements: California Institute of Technology, Florida Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, State University of New York at Stony Brook, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and Washington University. 


March 8, 2007

House Science Hearing on DHS S&T

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Radiological & Nuclear Threats,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on March 8, 2007

Congressman David Wu, chairman of the House Science Committee‘s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, convened a hearing today on funding for homeland security R&D.  Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Vayl Oxford testified, along with Admiral Cohen, Under Secretary for Science and Technology at DHS.  I testified on the role of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the applicability of risk assessments, and other items.  Jerry Epstein, Senior Fellow at CSIS, testified on the Department’s biosecurity investments.  And, from a first responder-as-user perspective, Marilyn Ward of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council testified.

Fortunately, the hearing avoided the non-starter subject of whether DNDO should be consolidated into the S&T Directorate.  The whole reason it is separate is due the special nature of nuclear terrorism and nuc detection R&D.  The hearing focused instead on the importance of strategic level judgments about how to balance near-term needs to deploy technology solutions to the challenges of securing the homeland with long-term commitments to R&D that can lead to major leaps in capability down the road.

My statement focused on the nuclear challenge from a non-physicist perspective by introducing a different view of success factors for the DNDO, and the public sector in general.  There’s a certain amount of attention given to the use of a broader framework for gauging value in R&D investments in there, too, that makes use of an IBM model — Global Movement Management — developed originally by Scott Gould and Christian Beckner.  Full disclosure: I’m now on that project to generate the 2.0 iteration.  I’d welcome any reactions to my testimony, and you can view the statements offered by the other expert witnesses by clicking below.

Vayl Oxford testimony for 3-8-07 hearing 

Admiral Cohen testimony for 3-8-07 hearing 

Dr. Epstein testimont for 3-8-07 hearing

Ms. Ward’s testimony for 3-8-07 hearing

Czerwinski testimony for 3-8-07 hearing

Update 3/11/07: GovExec’s Winter Casey covered the hearing in this story.