Equipping the Federal Government to Counter Terrorism
The mere articulation of a science and technology agenda to combat terrorism will do nothing to enhance the security of our country. We must act on that agenda, responding with creativity and effectiveness to a dramatically new kind of threat, one not faced before in the nation’s history. Existing technologies must be deployed and new technologies must be invented. Federal responsibilities and authorities need to be clarified. Existing institutions may gain capabilities, and some new missions could require the founding of new institutions. Obstacles to using our most potent resources for countering catastrophic terrorism must be identified and overcome.
This report does not purport to offer an enduring technological strategy for countering terrorism. The threat the nation faces is so multifaceted, so subject to changes (both in national vulnerabilities and in potential terrorists’ intentions) that a strategy to meet just the already-evident threats would be shortsighted. Furthermore, the best research and development program is of little value if what is learned along the way is not implemented in a timely and strategic fashion. This places great responsibility not only on the nation’s research community but also on the leaders of government agencies, who must access and utilize systematic thinking, managerial agility, and technical imagination. Specifically, we must be positioned to anticipate the terrorist threats, devise ways to make them less likely or less damaging, set priorities among the ever-changing array of threats, and, through innovation, reduce the dangers that our society and its people face.
The events of 9/11 dramatized U.S. vulnerability to terrorism and coalesced
a national will to act, but earlier experiences and analyses may also help shape our responses to the present dangers. A number of high-level commissions, most of them established after the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, not only addressed terrorist threats but also specifically called attention to the critical importance of science and technology in addressing them.1 The committee has drawn upon these prior reports because they reflect careful thinking and precedents, as well as concern about the proper organization and coordination of governmental action against terrorism.
All these studies not only underscore the importance of science and technology (S&T) in countering terrorism but also conclude, as did this committee, that the government will have to change how it sets goals for scientific and engineering programs and manages technology development if science and technology are to be effectively applied to that purpose. Repeatedly, these reports—including those of the Gilmore Commission, the Bremer Commission, the Hart/Rudman Commission, and the Marsh Commission—have noted the importance of developing a national strategy for combating terrorism and the need for organizing government to better implement it.
The Gilmore Commission (2000) concluded that “the United States has no coherent, functional national strategy for combating terrorism” and recommended that “the next President should develop and present one to the Congress within one year of assuming office.”2 It presented attributes of a “comprehensive and functional strategy for combating terrorism” and urged that it be “appropriately resourced and based on measurable performance objectives.” But the commission believed that government was poorly positioned to devise such a strategy. The “organization of the federal government’s programs for combating terrorism,” it wrote, “is fragmented, uncoordinated, and politically unaccountable.”3 It
noted that there was a need for a national office to “establish a clear set of priorities for research and development for combating terrorism, including long-range programs” and to “coordinate the development of nationally recognized standards for equipment, training, and laboratory protocols and techniques, with the ultimate objective being official certification.”4
The Bremer Commission (2000) recommended that “the President should establish a comprehensive and coordinated long-term research and development program for catastrophic terrorism.”5 The Hart-Rudman Commission report (2001) laid out the factors driving the need for such a program: “The inadequacies of our systems of research and education pose a greater threat to U.S. national security over the next quarter-century than any potential conventional war that we might imagine. We recommend that the role of the President’s Science Advisor be elevated to oversee … critical tasks such as … the institution of better inventory stewardship over the nation’s science and technology assets.”6 The President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure (Marsh Commission, 1997) focused on better use of existing technology and on new research to expand capabilities: “The Commission believes that some of the basic technology needed to improve infrastructure protection already exists, but needs to be widely deployed. In other areas, additional research effort is needed.”7
These quotes merely exemplify the many findings and recommendations of previous high-level reports, which reflected a common set of concerns about the government’s ability to organize its actions against terrorism. Unfortunately, they were largely ignored until 9/11. This chapter is therefore predicated on the assumption that the government must now act immediately to create the necessary structures for formulating, funding, overseeing, and managing a sustained and successful national program.
In this chapter, the committee focuses on factors that affect the government’s capacity to implement a national strategy for the use of science and technology to counter terrorism. In the first section below, it discusses the issues that drive the need for coordination across the federal government and the capabilities needed for effectively defining priorities and managing programs. It then briefly discusses the role of federal agencies in executing their respective portions of the overall strategy (more details about specific actions for particular agencies can be found in Chapters 2 to 10 of this report).
MANAGING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S PROGRAM OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR COUNTERING TERRORISM
The structure of federal agencies is the product of history, to a large extent the result of the Cold War and of the traditional distinction between the responsibility for national security and the responsibility for domestic policy. Federal agencies are structured to deal with problems that can be partitioned into war or criminal justice, national or foreign affairs, short-term or long-term strategy, and public or private duty. Given this compartmentalization, the federal government is not appropriately organized to carry out an S&T agenda for countering catastrophic terrorism. Making the task even harder, the S&T resources are in one set of agencies and the homeland-defense missions in another; federal and state responsibilities are overlapping; and the critical infrastructure systems owned and operated by the private sector are attractive terrorist targets. It is clear that the task of designing S&T efforts to counter terrorism, of assigning responsibilities among federal agencies, and of monitoring and managing their performance is daunting indeed.
Issues Driving the Need for Coordination Across the Federal Government
A number of factors are driving the need for an unprecedented level of coordination across the federal government. One important factor is the minimal overlap between the agencies that have historically performed innovative research that could now be applied to counterterrorism and the agencies with operational missions in homeland security. This issue is discussed in the penultimate section of this chapter, on the role of the federal agencies in developing and using science and technology for countering terrorism.
Another factor driving the need for coordination of counterterrorism activities in the federal government is the crosscutting nature and broad applicability of many of the most relevant technologies. This issue is discussed at length in Chapter 11. One example of a crosscutting technology is sensor networks, which have the potential to mitigate a variety of threats and to facilitate rapid response to a variety of attacks. Yet the research needed to build a viable system of sensors occurs in many fields (chemistry, biology, physics, and information technology, among others), is supported by many agencies (such as NSF, DARPA, and DOE), is performed in multiple sectors (universities, national laboratories, industry), and ultimately must be deployed as one element in an integrated security system.
A third factor contributing to the need for government coordination is the complex and diverse nature of the systems that may be terrorist targets. A systems approach must be taken in order to understand the vulnerabilities and define the S&T goals even within just one system, such as the electric power grid
or the shipping system (see the discussions in Chapters 6 and 7). Yet none of these systems operates in isolation, and the government will need new capabilities to understand the impact of the linkages between them and to make informed decisions about national priorities across all potential targets. This effort will require the creation of testable models of elements of the nation’s critical infrastructure, utilization of red teams to evaluate the performance of protective measures, promulgation of standards to allow interoperability of counterterrorism technologies, development of testbeds, and research to improve implementation and deployment. How the government might gain these capabilities is discussed in more detail later in this chapter.
The final factor that points to the federal government’s need to pull together a coherent strategy for counterterrorism activities is this: Success will depend critically on the efforts not only of the federal government but also of state and local governments, private industry, and universities. The relationships among these sectors involve a complex set of issues that are discussed in Chapter 13 of this report.
Strengthening the Federal Government’s Ability to Determine How S&T Can Be Used to Counter Terrorism
One approach to addressing the need for coordination could be to ask Congress to restructure the federal agencies to reflect the close working relationships that are required. On June 6, 2002, President Bush released a plan intended to do just that.8 He proposed that a new cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security be formed as a conglomeration of existing agencies and programs.9 In the interim, the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) “will continue to coordinate the federal government’s homeland security efforts and to advise the President on a comprehensive Homeland Security strategy.”10
Below, the committee discusses a number of the factors affecting the government’s ability to determine a counterterrorism strategy and efficiently
The President’s June 6, 2002 “Address to the Nation on the New Department of Homeland Security” is available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020606-8.html>.
The mission of the proposed Department of Homeland Security would be to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism, and minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States.” The department would be organized into four divisions: Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures; Border and Transportation Security; and Emergency Preparedness and Response (the Homeland Security Act of 2002, available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/deptofhomeland/bill/index.html>).
“White House proposal for the Department of Homeland Security,” p. 4. Available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/deptofhomeland/book.pdf>.
execute such a strategy. While the proposed new department has the potential to facilitate closer relationships between key agencies and to improve the federal government’s ability to pursue a coherent set of counterterrorism programs and actions, the process for congressional action on this plan and the resulting transfer of authority and functions to a new department will take time. In addition, the key requirement for an effective contribution to the nation’s safety from science, engineering, and medicine depends not on the government’s organization chart but on the depth and quality of the technical skills in the responsible agencies and their ability to tap the top talent in the country. This problem will remain unchanged, at least in the short term, by the proposed reorganization.
The committee agrees, however, that the need for a coordinated effort is urgent, so its comments and recommendations are based primarily on the current situation, in which OHS is responsible for organizing the federal government’s homeland security strategy. However, the issues discussed and the suggestions made about strengthening the government’s capabilities for setting priorities, coordinating programs, and deploying technology are not specific to the current situation. When or if a new department is formed, the actions proposed below would strengthen its ability to carry out its mission.
Cooperation Between OHS, OMB, and OSTP
After reviewing the past commission and congressional reports, consulting with government officials responsible for managing science and technology programs, and learning from the lessons manifest in the earlier chapters of this report, the committee concluded that the existing organization for coordinating counterterrorism research and utilizing the results is indeed inadequate. Responsibilities are unclear; authority is insufficiently specified; and the conception, execution, and evaluation of counterterrorism research and development are inadequately focused and coordinated.11
Nevertheless, essential institutions for ensuring that critical science and technology contributions are made to homeland security efforts are in place, though some improvements to existing capabilities and processes are required. One such institution is the Office of Homeland Security, which was created by Executive Order of the President on October 8, 2001.12 OHS is located in the
The GAO in its September 2001 report noted that the management of counterterrorism research and development is “self governing and highly dependent on voluntary coordination mechanisms” (General Accounting Office, 2001, Combating Terrorism: Selected Challenges and Related Recommendations, GAO-01-82, September, p. 82).
Executive Order Establishing the Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council, October 8, 2001; available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011008-2.html>.
White House and is currently responsible for creating the overall homeland-security plan.13,14 A second key institution is the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a statutory agency within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) which assists the President with the science and technology aspects of a broad range of policy issues, collaborates with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in evaluating and structuring the S&T components of the federal budget, and has close links with numerous sources of expert S&T advice from outside government.15 A third important institution is the OMB, which has the authority to manage the budget process for the EOP and ensures that all of the President’s priorities are reflected in the budgets of the cabinet departments and other agencies of the government.
Among these offices, the logical partitioning of responsibility is that OHS would develop the overall strategy for homeland security, including its S&T components. OSTP would assist OHS in generating these S&T components,
work with the federal agencies (through the National Science and Technology Council and the Homeland Security Council), and tap into the expert advice available from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, from the federal S&T agencies, and from the S&T communities at large. OMB would support execution of the strategy, subject to the President’s direction and the many trade-offs that must be made with the rest of the federal government’s activities. This system is already in place to some extent, but for it to function most efficiently, OHS needs access to new analytical capabilities, OSTP should be strengthened, and closer linkages could be developed between all three offices.
The Role of OHS in the S&T Strategy for Homeland Security
Development of a strategy for harnessing science and technology to counter terrorism was not listed as one of OHS’s major responsibilities in the Executive Order16 creating OHS, notwithstanding the highly technical nature of much of the work. This Executive Order also fails to document a formal role for OSTP in homeland security, and the director of OSTP was not explicitly named as a participant in OHS activities. However, despite the absence of S&T and OSTP in the Executive Order, the importance of science and technology and the need for close collaboration between OHS and OSTP is evident to all parties; it is already being addressed to a certain extent through voluntary collaboration between Governor Tom Ridge, the director of OHS, and John Marburger, the director of OSTP.
As Congress and the administration move forward on a potential new Department of Homeland Security, they have a chance to create a structure and a culture in the new department that will allow science and technology to be used efficiently in counterterrorism programs.
Recommendation 12.1: An Undersecretary for Technology will be needed in the proposed new Department of Homeland Security to provide a focal point for guiding key research and technology development programs across the department, and most importantly, engaging commitments from the major science, engineering, and medical science agencies that will remain outside the proposed new department.
In addition, this undersecretary could work closely with OSTP, perhaps through the National Science and Technology Council, on coordinating those multiagency projects and their linkages to related programs devoted primarily to other high-priority national objectives. This undersecretary would have responsibility not only for homeland security-related technology, but also for all technical elements of the agencies that are located in the department. (For example, if
the Coast Guard is part of the new department, the undersecretary would have to pay serious attention to research and development programs for new search and rescue tools or oil spill cleanup methods as well as to counterterrorism-related programs.)
In the meantime, a primary task of the OHS is development of a national strategy for homeland security. The first draft of that strategy is scheduled to be produced in July 2002. The committee commends OHS’s efforts in this area and specifically applauds its decision to include a section on science and technology for countering terrorism. The strategy, once complete, will go to the President for his approval, and thus the objectives and programs outlined in the OHS plan will become presidential priorities. This high-level focus on and endorsement of these objectives is vital to ensuring that the government is able to execute the appropriate programs through which science and engineering can contribute to homeland security efforts. As presidential priorities, these programs will be supported in the budgets of the relevant agencies, will be identified in OMB’s crosscutting budget analyses describing counterterrorism activities, and will be appropriately justified and defended during the budget process.
Need for Analytical Capabilities to Support Decisions About Homeland Security Priorities and Programs
The national homeland security strategy currently under development in OHS is an important first step toward a national counterterrorism plan, but the threats, vulnerabilities, and available solutions will be constantly changing, and the federal government will continually be faced with the challenge of identifying new problems and new opportunities for strengthening the nation and the even more difficult task of prioritizing potential government actions. In this section, the committee discusses the information and capabilities the federal government will need access to in order to continually assess priorities and programs in this changing environment.
In light of the technical nature of the threats, as discussed throughout this report, it is clear that the government has insufficient capability to undertake scenario-based threat assessments, systems modeling of critical infrastructures, red teaming, economic and policy analysis of alternative counterterrorism policies, and development of testbeds, standards, and protocols to facilitate technology development and deployment. This inadequacy has been recognized by others, the Gilmore Commission in particular. Its report recommends the establishment of a national office that, among its other responsibilities, “should provide direction on priorities for research and development, and related test and evaluation for combating terrorism, as well as for developing nationally recognized standards for equipment and laboratory protocols and techniques, with the ultimate objective being official certification.”17
Recommendation 12.2: A Homeland Security Institute to provide technical analysis and support should be established to serve the organization that sets priorities for homeland security; this Institute would perform the following functions:
Systems analysis, risk analysis, and simulation and modeling to determine the vulnerabilities of the nation’s critical infrastructures and the effectiveness of the systems deployed to reduce them.18
Sophisticated economic and policy analysis to assess the distributed costs and benefits of alternative approaches to enhancing security.
Red teaming to evaluate the effectiveness of measures deployed to enhance the security of target institutions, facilities, and infrastructure.
Identification of instances when common standards and protocols are necessary to ensure interoperability and effective utilization of tools developed for field operators and first responders. The institute would cooperate with relevant federal agencies, such as NIST, in the development of these standards.
Assistance for agencies in establishing testbeds to evaluate the effectiveness of technologies under development and to assess the appropriateness of such technologies for deployment.
Design of metrics and use of these metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of homeland security programs throughout the government agencies and at national laboratories.
Design of and support for the conduct of exercises and simulations.
This recommended Homeland Security Institute should be a dedicated, contracted, not-for-profit organization.
It is essential that the federal government have access to these capabilities so that it can make effective decisions about priorities and programs for counterterrorism, whether the capabilities support a strengthened OHS or a new Department of Homeland Security. However, the number of people needed to provide the breadth and depth of technical expertise for performing the above functions would be significant, and neither OHS nor OSTP is large enough to house such a group internally. Therefore the committee is recommending that the above functions be located in a dedicated, not-for-profit security technical analysis and support institute.
This is not the first time that the establishment of a research corporation has
In particular, capability is needed for looking at scenarios in which the nation is exposed to multiple threats simultaneously (as discussed in Chapter 10) and in which the links between elements of the U.S. infrastructure are exploited. The modeling and analyses would not compete with the work of federal agencies but rather would be used to complement those efforts and to test whether the multiagency programs aimed at identifying critical vulnerabilities and mitigating these problems are proceeding correctly.
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
institute will be in the leveraging of expertise and results across the institute and in synergies from interactions between people working on different tasks or on the same tasks for different areas of vulnerability. Thus the responsibilities proposed for the institute should not be assigned to different organizations.
Recommendation 12.3: The administration and Congress should develop a transitional plan that allows the Homeland Security Institute described in Recommendation 12.2 to be created as quickly as possible.
The organization responsible for determining the administration’s national counterterrorism strategy will be the primary customer of the Homeland Security Institute; currently this is OHS. The technical nature of the institute’s responsibilities and outputs implies that OHS should rely heavily on OSTP for help in finding staff for the institute and assigning its tasks. However, to take full advantage of the institute, OHS will need some in-house technical and analytic expertise. In the longer term, if the new Department of Homeland Security is formed, the committee would expect that the institute would report to the department’s Undersecretary for Technology.
The Role of OSTP in the S&T Strategy for Homeland Security
OSTP is the only unit in the EOP with the capability to digest the S&T needs for counterterrorism and to interact with the science and technology community within and outside the federal government. Thus, OSTP has a critical role to play in support of OHS. As discussed above, OSTP will provide OHS with access to existing science and engineering expertise within the EOP and will help OHS staff and utilize the Homeland Security Institute. Mechanisms for cooperation between the OHS and OSTP are being developed; for example, a senior OSTP staff member is serving on the OHS staff and a memorandum of understanding is in place defining a cooperative relationship between OHS and OSTP. OSTP is clearly willing to provide OHS with as much assistance as possible; the present director has given homeland security a top priority in the work of OSTP, and he has asked the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to give these issues priority attention as well.
More remains to be done, however, to ensure that OSTP is able to play its critical role in supporting OHS’s work. For example, OSTP needs to be able to tap the expertise of all relevant agencies—including those represented on the Homeland Security Council and other agencies responsible for science and technology research and development—to develop research priorities.
Recommendation 12.4: The Director of OSTP should lead an interagency process to develop the S&T research priorities for counterterrorism. These priorities should be responsive to and aligned with the overall counterterrorism agenda developed by OHS, and budget guidance should be pro-
mulgated to the agencies to support their participation in programs that support these priorities.
The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is a natural place for relevant agencies to come together to discuss S&T for counterterrorism. However, the committee is concerned that NSTC does not currently appear to be as active as would be necessary to effectively carry out key coordinating discussions. A revitalized NSTC Committee on National Security or a new NSTC subcommittee on counterterrorism research and development, with participation from the highest levels of relevant agencies, would help OSTP and the agencies provide coordinated input to OHS and OMB.
To effectively lead interagency discussions about counterterrorism priorities and coordination of programs, the director of OSTP must be recognized as being the representative of the President’s decisions and views on science and technology in this area. By giving him the title of Assistant to the President for Science and Technology,21,22 the President could make it clear that the director of OSTP acts with his authority. This designation would allow the director, when interacting with the agencies, to have the stature and influence needed to ensure that programs in support of the science and technology elements of EOP’s priorities for homeland security are given the necessary attention.
Another factor that would help the OSTP director effectively support the communication of Presidential priorities is assuring that the OSTP has access to the people and resources needed to provide scientific, engineering, and technical expertise in the wide range of disciplines that are relevant to counterterrorism. The need for increased capabilities in the life sciences area is particularly apparent.
The Role of OMB in the S&T Strategy for Homeland Security
The budgeting process for counterterrorism investments is beginning to develop transparency and consistency through the process required by Congress and reported in OMB’s Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism, typically prepared each August.23 However, the definition of “research” and
“Assistant to the President” is a title that President George H.W. Bush gave to D. Allan Bromley, his science advisor, and that was continued for Bromley’s successors in that administration and for President Clinton’s science advisors as well.
This recommendation was also made by the Hart-Rudman Commission (Hart-Rudman, at ix).
OMB’s Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism fulfills legislative requirements that the Administration provide information on executive branch funding for combating terrorism, domestic preparedness (primarily defense against weapons of mass destruction), and national security. The most recent version of the report was released in August 2001 and is available online at <http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/nsd_annual_report2001.pdf>.
assurance of its consistent interpretation across the agencies need more work. Categories like “critical infrastructure protection” are not distinct from “counterterrorism,” so that the funding representation is not unique. Further refinement of the budgeting process at all stages, together with tighter coordination within the EOP, will help assure the coherence of agency programs and their conformity with Presidential priorities. OMB must also work with and support OSTP in coordinating agency activities and offering budget guidance.
Recommendation 12.5: OMB’s Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism should include a description of progress toward achieving the goals of the S&T agenda for countering terrorism as well as actual budget appropriations in suitable activity categories and by agency. In addition, OMB should prepare and issue jointly with OSTP an annual budget crosscut describing how the present and proposed budgets reflect the S&T priorities for countering terrorism. A joint letter would be transmitted to Congress, with the budget proposed the following January.
Enhancing the Importance of S&T in the Homeland Security Council
The same Executive Order that created OHS also formed the Homeland Security Council (HSC), which is responsible for advising the President on homeland security and coordinating and executing the nation’s corresponding strategy. The members of the HSC are the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Director of the Office of Homeland Security.
This list does not include the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Commerce, who are only invited to “meetings pertaining to their responsibilities.” But the Department of Energy has responsibility for a $6 billion physical science and technology program. It is the steward of the national laboratory system within which much of the critical research and testing capability of the country resides. DOE, through the National Nuclear Security Administration, also has stewardship responsibility for the nation’s nuclear stockpile, which is critical to international control of nuclear weapons-grade material. The Department of Commerce, among its other responsibilities, is home for the National Institute of Science and Technology. NIST undertakes critical testing and standards-development activities that can enable the early deployment of technologies to counter terrorism for use by federal agencies, local first responders, and the private sector. Both the Department of Energy and the Department of Commerce clearly have critical roles to play in the defense of the homeland and in counterterrorism activities in general.
Recommendation 12.6: The Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Commerce should be accorded full membership on the Homeland Security Council.
As argued above, this committee believes that science and technology efforts should be a major element in homeland defense. To assure that the effort is properly coordinated, the Director of OSTP must be at least on a par with other leaders of the nation’s S&T enterprise and thus should be accorded full membership in the Homeland Security Council.
Congressional Capabilities for Supporting the S&T Strategy for Homeland Security
Congress is a key partner of the executive branch in the federal government’s management of counterterrorism programs. Thus Congress needs access to many of the same resources that support EOP. In particular, it needs analytic capabilities to support appropriations and legislative decisions for counterterrorism programs, and it needs to be able to understand their funding situations.
As noted above, many agencies have responsibilities for performing research or deploying technologies for homeland security. Thus when presidential budget proposals are transmitted to Congress, they are atomized in the present committee structure and Congress, as a whole, loses an integrated picture of the entire budget as it relates to counterterrorism. While a new Department of Homeland Security, and a corresponding reorganization of congressional committees, may reduce the number of agencies and committees whose budgets are supporting programs relevant to homeland security, the activities will still be spread across a fairly wide range of departments. Thus it will always be important for Congress to be able to determine its own view of the proper balance of resources and missions among agencies both within and outside a Department of Homeland Security.
Other commission reports have made general comments on the fact that Congress’s organization can impede its ability to deal with national-security priorities.24 This committee addressed more specific concerns—that is, how Congress can receive an integrated, coherent, and comprehensive representation of the entire federal budget as it relates to science and technology for counter-
terrorism. Recommendation 12.5, on strengthening and expanding OMB’s Annual Report to Congress on Combating Terrorism, is motivated in part by the value to Congress of receiving this information. Another report that will help Congress better understand the range of counterterrorism activities under way is the recent report to Congress by the Congressional Research Service.25
Congress could also benefit from an internal source of objective, reliable, expert advice on S&T in order to competently perform its appropriations and oversight roles. Congress needs access to information that allows it to judge various S&T programs based on their goals and objectives, accomplishments and progress, and unsolved issues. (For example, the ability to monitor progress in sensor research and its application to counterterrorism would be useful.) Analytic capability could also be used to reestablish connectivity in the separated budget items supporting the overall homeland security objectives defined by the administration. One mechanism for building this desirable institutional capacity could be the establishment of an entity within the Congressional Budget Office.
THE ROLE OF THE FEDERAL AGENCIES IN DEVELOPING AND USING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR COUNTERING TERRORISM
Federal agencies are of course currently providing a critical source of expertise for OHS and OSTP as they formulate the national homeland-security strategy, but the most important responsibility of the federal agencies will be in executing this strategy. They will need to ensure that focus is maintained on critical counterterrorism-related research areas and that results lead quickly to new technology in support of well-understood goals. This will have to be a government-wide effort, as the agencies that can perform innovative research in counterterrorism-related areas are often not the same agencies that have operational missions in homeland security.
Institutions such as NIH, NSF, the Department of Energy and its national laboratory system, the Department of Commerce’s NIST, and the Department of Defense together play a key role in performing and funding research in support of diverse national needs. However, with the exception of the Department of Defense, the nuclear programs of the Department of Energy, and the NIH work on its recently expanded mission in bioterrorism, these S&T agencies are not involved in the front line of research on homeland defense.
Instead, the task of implementing technologies to protect the nation is distributed among many agencies—FEMA, the Coast Guard, Customs, Immigration and Naturalization, the new Transportation Security Administration in DOT,
the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, parts of the Department of Agriculture that deal with food production and safety, and state government and municipal agencies—that often have limited experience with advanced and highly creative research and development and limited resources available for such programs.
Thus a key challenge for the federal government will be in ensuring productive interaction between these two groups of agencies. The institutions overseeing the research will need information about what sorts of technologies and operational performance levels are required for practical counterterrorism systems, and the organizations making decisions about deployment will need to understand the capabilities and limitations of new technologies and the possibilities for systems integration. Furthermore, to ensure that these interactions are constructive and that appropriate expertise is available to make key decisions about programs and technologies, some agencies may need new or enhanced capabilities and experiences.
For example, some agencies have a limited tradition of creating or managing complex research programs. Yet they are already being tasked with making decisions about which existing technologies provide the best immediate protection and determining which technologies will be needed next. The Department of Transportation and its new Transportation Security Administration are in this situation. The committee of course does not suggest that all research on transportation security go through TSA, but TSA as a user agency should have the ability to support research programs and technology development activities when necessary and the expertise and the experience to contribute to and learn from programs being performed elsewhere.
Recommendation 12.7: Agencies with homeland security missions and substantial responsibilities for procuring and fielding solutions dependent on technology should have systems analysis and systems engineering capabilities and the expertise to set up and manage programs for which they fund contract research.
Some or all of the agencies responsible for setting technology requirements and deploying technologies may move into a new Department of Homeland Security so that they can more effectively coordinate their work with one another, but they will still be organizationally separated from the government’s largest and most advanced science, engineering, and medical science programs. The deploying agencies will still need the expertise and mechanisms to communicate their needs to the researchers and to utilize the results of such programs.
Facilitation of technology development will be a complicated task for many agencies. It is very difficult to define the goals for such programs, support the necessary scientific and engineering research, facilitate the maturation of technologies into robust products, and eventually ensure that these products are implemented by appropriate users. Also, technology development often requires some
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
approaches. Many ideas that seem attractive in isolation will fail to meet critical needs when they are evaluated in terms of policy priorities and a systems context.
In many homeland security efforts, the national laboratories have a critical role to play, if their programs and unique capabilities can be focused on supporting OHS objectives. These programs should focus on the systems engineering elements of counterterrorism problems; for example, they are well positioned to examine issues relating to the development of effective sensor systems rather than just working on an individual sensor technology. The national laboratories also have the facilities to perform and facilitate both classified and unclassified research and to coordinate results from both types of programs.
The Department of Defense also has a great reservoir of relevant programs, experience, and expertise to be tapped in the application of science and technology for homeland security. How DOD’s technology base can best contribute to the overall national technology effort that is the subject of this report has not been determined, but the Office of Homeland Security, the Department of Homeland Security (if formed), and other federal agencies should carefully coordinate their own technology efforts with relevant DOD programs. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Joint Services Chemical and Biological Defense Program, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases all are and will be carrying out large-scale science and engineering efforts closely related to domestic counterterrorism activities.
In addition to these research and development activities, some of the technical tools and experiences that arise in the normal course of DOD’s principal mission of conducting joint military operations against foreign opponents may also be appropriate for aspects of homeland security. For example, DOD will be developing technology for detection of and protection from chemical and biological threats as a necessary part of its principal mission. Deployed forces are a prime target of terrorists, and DOD’s protective efforts (called “force protection” by DOD) have much of the same technical content as homeland security. The DOD also will have a role to play in support of counterterrorist efforts within the United States and has taken some preliminary steps to adapt its structures to make this contribution. A Northern Command has been established with the explicit mission of “defending the U.S. and supporting the full range of military assistance to civil authorities.”26 Such support would range from shooting down commandeered airliners to providing airlifts to convey supplies for disaster relief. Given the likely scale of the DOD efforts and the overall size and quality of the
From a description of Unified Command Plan revisions announced April 17, 2002, and scheduled to take place on October 1, 2002. Information about the Unified Command Plan is available online at <http://www.dod.gov/specials/unifiedcommand/>.
DOD technology and industrial base, it is important to find a role that makes the best use of the national defense asset for homeland security.
Difficulty Implementing Parts of the Research Agenda in This Report
In its descriptions of how science and technology can contribute to counterterrorism efforts, this report outlines a wide range of actions that the agencies should consider taking. However, in some of the critical areas, the committee was not able to identify an appropriate government agency with the capabilities or the mission to take the lead in formulating and funding research or to translate resulting technologies into effective, deployed systems. In these cases, examples of which follow, the committee concluded that enhancement or restructuring of institutional capacity at an operating agency will be required:
Many groups have recognized that most of the transportation modes are not supported by an operational capability to define and manage a research program for protection against catastrophic terrorism. Thus Congress has established the Transportation Security Administration, and this new agency will have a multibillion-dollar budget and tens of thousands of employees. But at present, it has no advanced research capability, little experience in high-tech systems acquisition, and insufficient capability to do the required systems analysis, put needed technology programs in place, and manage them to success. (See Chapter 7.)
Food production and supplies must of course be safeguarded from terrorist attack. But the current food production and inspection system is not designed to provide security against or to recognize intentional attacks. The Department of Agriculture needs the capacity to perform and fund research on plant and animal diseases and to develop and deploy surveillance systems. An agricultural equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might be an appropriate approach. (See Chapters 3 and 4.)
First responders and emergency operations centers will need guidance from the federal government on relevant technologies (such as sensors and protective gear), on training exercises and simulations to prepare personnel and test systems, and on protocols for identifying and responding to different kinds of attacks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a preexisting relationship with local police, fire, and rescue squads owing to a history of working together on disaster-response efforts, so it would be the logical coordinator between the federal government, particularly OHS, and local groups. However, FEMA will need to drastically expand its experience and programs in homeland security and counterterrorism and to draw heavily on expertise in other agencies in order to provide first responders and emergency operations centers with the necessary information and tools, especially if it is to place greater emphasis on preparing for and anticipating terrorist events. (See Chapter 8.)
Traditional market mechanisms for the development of new vaccines are failing to provide products for responding to bioterrorism. The Department of Health and Human Services should explore new mechanisms to facilitate the development and production of such vaccines. A national orphan vaccine center, perhaps created as a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, might be necessary to bring potential vaccines to the stage at which they can be licensed. Such a center could help coordinate extramural research and development activities among public and private institutions, perform its own research in critical areas, and coordinate and oversee the clinical trials and animal model work on which licensing would be based. A production facility for orphan vaccines would also be needed. (See Chapter 3.)
Information security is identified in this study, as it was by the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure, as a major element in the nation’s vulnerabilities, but no agency or department has the primary mission to foster progress in this field. DARPA and NSF created much of the science base for the Internet and for computer science in general, and other agencies—DOE, DOD, FBI, and NASA in particular—have made important contributions to computer-network technology. But the security of commercial computers is left largely to the private sector, and the present weakness in this area is a consequence of minimal market demand for it in the past. Coordination of agency efforts in this area is important, as is building a federal infrastructure to tap the intellectual and fiscal resources of private industry. (See Chapter 5.)
Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (Gilmore Commission). 2000. Second Annual Report to the President and the Congress, December 15.
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Knezo, Genevieve J. 2002. Possible Impacts of Major Counter Terrorism Security Actions on Research, Development, and Higher Education, Congressional Research Service, April 8. Available online at <http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL31354.pdf>.
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