support the development of new vaccines. In the former area, the exemption is for “gathering and analyzing critical infrastructure information in order to better understand security problems related to critical infrastructure and protected systems, and interdependencies of critical infrastructure and protected systems, so as to ensure the availability, integrity, and reliability of critical infrastructure and protected systems.”5 In the biotechnology area, the objective is to facilitate cooperation on precompetitive research to support the development of new vaccines for combating various bioterrorist threats.6

Government Procurement and Acquisition Rules

Some of the disincentives for private investment have their origin in the government’s own acquisition rules and regulations, which are not designed to provide the speed of procurement or the flexibility that will be needed for development and continuous improvement of counterterrorism technologies. The required procedures are time-consuming, and the bureaucracy is daunting, especially for small companies (where much of the nation’s innovation occurs). The grants selection process in use at many agencies presents similar issues: The applications take months to solicit, write, and process, and the overall portfolio tends to emphasize low-risk proposals. This situation particularly discourages researchers in dynamic fields like biotechnology.

A study should be conducted, in collaboration with Congress, on whether and how these regulations might be streamlined when the high-priority needs of counterterrorism conflict with them. OSTP, through PCAST, might explore this issue and determine how such a study might be conducted. Prior reports have also recognized how daunting the government’s acquisition process can be, and they have suggested that it might be appropriate for procurement to be simplified when in pursuit of urgent national goals.7

The committee notes that while improving the ability of the government to access the best research and technology available in the private sector (and at universities) is very important, so too is enabling agencies to make good deci-

5  

The Critical Infrastructure Information Security Act of 2001 (S. 1456). This act defines “critical infrastructure” broadly to include essential physical and cyberbased systems and services, including telecommunications (voice and data transmission and Internet), electrical power, gas and oil storage and transportation, banking and finance, transportation, water supply, and emergency services (including medical, fire, and police services).

6  

The Tauzin bill, Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act of 2001, H.R. 3448, at Section 401.

7  

The Hart-Rudman Commission (2001) (at xiii) recommended reforms to security-related procurements, including: “Establish and employ a two-track acquisition system, one for major acquisitions and a ‘fast track’ for a modest number of potential breakthrough systems, especially those in the area of command and control.”



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