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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
Recommendation 2.15: A single federal agency, possibly the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, should be designated as the nation’s lead research and development agency for nuclear and radiological counterterrorism. This agency should develop a focused and adequately funded research and development program to fulfill this mission and should work with other federal agencies, the President’s science advisor, and the director of the Office of Homeland Security to coordinate this work and ensure that effective mechanisms are in place for the timely transfer of results to the homeland defense effort.
The centralization of lead R&D responsibilities into a single federal agency is no guarantee of success absent commitments to certain operating principles. Among these are commitments to appoint a technically capable staff to manage the R&D work; to provide sufficient and sustained funding to carry out an adequate program; and to reach across agency boundaries and outside government to obtain the expertise needed to execute the work and to ensure that results are moved expeditiously into application. While the events of September 11 appear to have produced a renewed sense of cooperation among federal agencies, the challenge for whichever agency is selected to lead this important R&D effort will be to nurture and sustain this spirit.
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Department of Energy. 1996. Plutonium: The First 50 Years, Washington, D.C., 82 pp.
Department of Energy. 1998. Commercial Nuclear Fuel from U.S. and Russian Surplus Defense Inventories: Materials, Policies, and Market Effects, DOE/EIA-0619, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., 115 pp.