said; this meant that “technology transition is going to be crucial for this new department.”

  • The new department had a big information management problem. The department is large, and it needs to exchange information with the other agencies it interacts with, and those agencies represent a large part of the federal government.

  • Most of the R&D on homeland security would continue to be performed outside the new department. The contributions of DoD, NASA, DoE, and NIH would dwarf what occurred in the new department. The challenge was “get all these players operating on a common R&D roadmap.”

Key Elements in the New Department

He reviewed some of the key elements in the new department. First, the S&T activities were headed by an undersecretary. It was necessary to have an individual with sufficient rank and title, he said, to gain the attention of peers in this complex interagency process. Second, the new department was designed to include a DARPA-like entity to emulate one of the roles DARPA23 had played: to use its funding to leverage contributions from service R&D and from R&D centers throughout the defense research establishment. He credited DARPA with “playing a coordinating role and encouraging concentration and focus within DoD.” That, he said, would be the objective for this one significant piece of the Department of Homeland Security. “It will have DARPA’s leanness, its flexibility of personnel, access to talent, and freedom from some Civil Service limitations that are not appropriate for a scientific organization—in other words, the procurement flexibility that DARPA’s used so effectively over the years.” He said that HSARPA would also have an acceleration fund, with a “significant” level of funding. The goal, he said, was to enable it to leverage participation and cooperation across a whole series of agencies, in addition to what the department is undertaking, and also to involve the private sector.

A third element of the DHS research plan was the use of the FFRDC24 concept. The undersecretary of S&T would be able both to establish an FFRDC and to have ready access to existing FFRDCs. One of the central recommendations by the National Academies in their homeland security conclusions was the recommendation that an FFRDC should play a key role, particularly in the areas of threat and risk assessment and risk management.


See also Dr. Kerr’s comments about HSARPA.


A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) is a unique organization that assists the United States government with scientific research and analysis, systems development, and systems acquisition. FFRDCs bring together the resources of government, industry, and academia to solve complex technical problems that cannot be solved by any group alone.

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