noted that there was a need for a national office to “establish a clear set of priorities for research and development for combating terrorism, including long-range programs” and to “coordinate the development of nationally recognized standards for equipment, training, and laboratory protocols and techniques, with the ultimate objective being official certification.”4

The Bremer Commission (2000) recommended that “the President should establish a comprehensive and coordinated long-term research and development program for catastrophic terrorism.”5 The Hart-Rudman Commission report (2001) laid out the factors driving the need for such a program: “The inadequacies of our systems of research and education pose a greater threat to U.S. national security over the next quarter-century than any potential conventional war that we might imagine. We recommend that the role of the President’s Science Advisor be elevated to oversee … critical tasks such as … the institution of better inventory stewardship over the nation’s science and technology assets.”6 The President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure (Marsh Commission, 1997) focused on better use of existing technology and on new research to expand capabilities: “The Commission believes that some of the basic technology needed to improve infrastructure protection already exists, but needs to be widely deployed. In other areas, additional research effort is needed.”7

These quotes merely exemplify the many findings and recommendations of previous high-level reports, which reflected a common set of concerns about the government’s ability to organize its actions against terrorism. Unfortunately, they were largely ignored until 9/11. This chapter is therefore predicated on the assumption that the government must now act immediately to create the necessary structures for formulating, funding, overseeing, and managing a sustained and successful national program.

In this chapter, the committee focuses on factors that affect the government’s capacity to implement a national strategy for the use of science and technology to counter terrorism. In the first section below, it discusses the issues that drive the need for coordination across the federal government and the capabilities needed for effectively defining priorities and managing programs. It then briefly discusses the role of federal agencies in executing their respective portions of the overall strategy (more details about specific actions for particular agencies can be found in Chapters 2 to 10 of this report).


Ibid., “Specific Functional Recommendations,” at 9.


Bremer Commission Report, September 2000, at v.


Hart-Rudman Commission Report, 2001, at ix.


Marsh Commission Report, 1997, at 8.

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