Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

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.

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5 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 9, 2007 @ 11:03 am

The DHS focus should be totally on WMD issues, their prevention and proliferation and the so-called BENICE theorm (Biological agents, Explosives, Nuclear, Incendiaries, Chemicals, other explosives) should be abandoned. WMD and terrorism is the key issue. After 40 years of mismanagement in DOJ, the whole border apparatus should be split off from DHS into a separate adminstrative unit, TSA, returned to DOT, FEMA again made independent, and the Homeland Security Council and advisory groups ended with a separate focus on WMD issues added as a specific portfolio to the National Security Act and its organizational mandates. Basically, the S&T effort at DHS remains without focus or likelihood of helping on Research or Development (see recent article on Vanever (sic) Bush and the R&D split now ending in the US and world as described in the March 3rd-7th issue of the Economist.

Comment by J.

March 14, 2007 @ 8:48 am

FEMA’s history ought to have been an indication for what DHS ought to be focused on. FEMA was originally intended to address the consequences of a Soviet missile attack, until the natural disasters in the 1980s forced the government to direct FEMA toward supporting state/local response to such incidents. Sadly, DHS has failed to acknowledge that history by placing most of its funding into CBRN hazard incident response and not the much more probable threat of terrorist use of explosives, and of course, responding to natural disasters and man-made incidents.

I’d be interested in better understanding how you justify DNDO research remaining outside of the S&T directorate. There is nothing special about nuclear terrorism or radiological detection research that should prevent its management under a common R&D strategy. Rather, it is this administration’s rabid and inexplainable paranoia over the “dirty bomb” and improvised nuclear device scenarios that drives the existance of a separate office. This fixation on creating networks of detectors without adequately developing a broad counterterrorism approach to addressing nuclear (and CB) terrorism is a failure to understand the issue.

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » QFR No. 2: What Deployment Strategy?

May 20, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

[...] for the record Chairman Wu submitted after the March 8 hearing on the DNDO and DHS S&T budgets (previous post here).  His question gets to the heart of how technology and strategy should be required to work [...]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Mark Up Today

June 6, 2007 @ 9:07 am

[...] proposed National Bio and Agro-defense Facility represents something not unlike the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.  Both the NBAF and DNDO are responsible for “directing basic, applied, and advanced research, [...]

Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » DHS S&T Under GAO Microscope

June 25, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

[...] of Science provides a quick overview of the solutions they’re aiming for.  (You can also see this post about a Congressional hearing in March at which both U/S Cohen and I testified.)  Take a look at [...]

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