Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 6, 2007

National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Mark Up Today

Filed under: Biosecurity,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 6, 2007

A National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, is proposed in HR 1717, which is scheduled for a mark up this afternoon by the Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee. 

As the Department of Homeland Security continues to grow organizationally, it would seem that a good portion of its mission also continues to be shared among other agencies previously in charge of addressing certain threats.  The NBAF will be led by a director appointed by the Homeland Security Secretary, but it also will serve both the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture “in defending against the threat of potential acts of agroterrorism and natural-occurring incidents related to agriculture with the potential to adversely impact public health, animal health, and the economy, or may otherwise impact homeland security” according to the bill.  HR 1717 may reflect an emerging trend in DHS reorganization of the S&T missions. 

The 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, development, testing, and evaluation.”  In fact the authorizing language for the DNDO and NBAF look very similar in scope and structure. 

Could this be the beginning of an over all trend to reshape DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate into threat-oriented Offices or Facilities?  Will there next be an organization focused solely on bio-terrorism (there almost was)?  And another on just chemical threats?  Or MANPADS?

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