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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
been proposed to support governmental counterterrorism activities. Shortly after 9/11, Joseph S. Nye recommended that the then-proposed Office of Homeland Security be supported by a new research corporation, specifically commissioned to deal with terrorism.19
Nonprofit, independent, or contractor-operated technical organizations have been providing dedicated, sole-source analytic support to national security agencies and the Department of Defense for a number of years. Examples include the MITRE Corporation, Project Air Force at the RAND Corporation, the Institute for Defense Analyses, and the Aerospace Corporation.20 A primary advantage of these sorts of quasi-governmental organizations is that they are structured and managed to provide support for decision making by government officials by quickly providing important information based on a deep understanding of the technical issues relevant to those decisions. They also have the ability, as nongovernmental bodies, to subcontract work without the constraints of the government’s procurement regulations and to establish their own hiring and compensation criteria. In that way, they are able to attract the highly specialized talent required to perform the tasks described in Recommendation 12.2.
The technical support supplied by the proposed institute would provide essential input for decision making about programs and deployment activities for counterterrorism efforts. However, OHS does not currently have the procurement authority needed for creating and utilizing such an organization. The new Department of Homeland Security would have this authority, but this department does not exist yet. The legislation required to give OHS the needed authority, or the formation of the new department, would take some time, but waiting for either process to conclude before forming the institute would be inappropriate, given the urgency of the counterterrorism tasks facing OHS and the federal government. There are a number of mechanisms that would allow work to begin quickly on putting together the staff and facilities for the institute. One would be to utilize an existing contractor-operated technical organization that already provides support to government agencies. Another would be to assign the tasks to an existing unit within a relevant agency. Yet another would be to have an agency or office with the necessary procurement authority begin to create the institute from scratch. Which approach will work most efficiently should be determined by the administration and Congress, but it is important to recognize that the various tasks listed above for the institute are related, and a good deal of the value of the
Nye, Joseph S. 2001. “How to Protect the Homeland,” New York Times, Editorial, September 25. He cites as a precedent for this proposed research corporation the organizations established to deal with nuclear threats of the Cold War era.
These institutions are organized as federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), but it is the capabilities and mode of work that the committee sees as necessary; no view is expressed here on whether an FFRDC is the right formal structure.