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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
high-risk/high-payoff programs, which many agencies are not comfortable with or experienced in selecting or managing.
A number of program characteristics should be key elements of agencies’ efforts to develop technologies specifically in support of counterterrorism objectives. One is the promotion of interdisciplinary research, another is a focus on maturation and dissemination of innovations, and a third is the building of productive links to the academic, industrial, and government research communities. In some areas, such as work on technologies for preventing or responding to attacks using chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, it will be important for agencies to be able to take goals with classified applications and translate them into general, unclassified problems that can be tackled by a broad research community in an open forum. In all cases a highly creative and flexible management approach is required.
One governmental institution that successfully developed programs with the above characteristics was the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now DARPA). ARPA supported focused (and often high-risk) research that laid the groundwork for important new technologies. ARPA’s achievements often were the result of the efforts of visionary, proactive, and empowered program managers who were able to fund projects in ways that extended beyond the government’s conventional peer-review and competitive-award processes. Agencies such as NIH that will have to expand and adjust their systems to go beyond research in order to address technology development and its deployment for counterterrorism would do well to consider developing units or programs that have some of the above characteristics.
In addition to near-term, technology-focused programs, the government will need to invest in research with longer-term payoffs. Many federal agencies—including NIH, NSF, DOE, NASA, and the armed services research offices (ARO, ONR, AFOSR)—have the mission, experience, and infrastructure to support this sort of basic research and innovation. In addition a number of government laboratories, such as NIST, NRL, ARL and AFRL, as well as the DOE and NASA national laboratories, have the capability to perform basic research in relevant areas and can also contribute. All of these agencies should be given the resources to press ahead on a broad front in areas of science and technology that could enhance knowledge and the nation’s capacity to meet counterterrorism needs in both the near term and the future. Specific research programs for these agencies are discussed in Chapters 2-10.
Since government agencies will not only be performing counterterrorism-related research but also funding such research at other institutions, it will be essential for the federal government to have the ability to sort through and evaluate a large number of proposals for research and for technologies and identify those with specific promise. (The administration and the supporting agencies are already finding the screening of such proposals a significant burden.) Decision making about both internal and external projects must be informed by systems