University Research Centers of Excellence for Homeland Security
A Summary Report of a Workshop
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
Support for this project was provided by the Department of Homeland Security under Purchase Order Number 248836. Any views expressed in this publication are those of the workshop participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
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The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) passes its 1-year anniversary, Secretary Tom Ridge often cites the essential role of science and technology (S&T) in the nation’s efforts to “carry out a vigorous and ambitious slate of [homeland] security initiatives.”1 Congressional appropriations for DHS include substantial funding for S&T efforts, including research and development (R&D). Indeed, Congress acknowledged the key role science and technology would play in the nation’s efforts to counter terrorism by including the S&T Directorate prominently in the organizational structure of the new department.2
In organizing the new S&T Directorate, DHS established two major new entities, the Office of Research and Development (ORD), which focuses on the use of federal laboratories and facilities as well as universities to advance S&T objectives, and the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), which will sponsor activities primarily in industry. Key challenges for both ORD and HSARPA include striking an effective balance between applied and basic research and matching urgent R&D needs to strengthen homeland security with the institutional capabilities most suited to specific research areas.
The nation’s universities constitute a formidable resource in both basic and applied research areas. The Office of University Programs within ORD is responsible for sponsoring a number of homeland security centers of excellence (HS-centers) in U.S. universities. These centers are envisaged principally as building important multidisciplinary and crosscutting capabilities in research areas where universities can contribute most effectively to the department’s mission and to improvements in technology that will yield the most cost-effective benefits for the prevention, detection, and mitigation of the effects of terrorist actions. Defining and creating HS-centers such that specific research needs are matched to specific center capabilities will be an especially important task for ORD. In November 2003 DHS announced that the University of Southern California had been chosen to host the first HS-center, devoted to the study of risk analysis related to the economic consequences of terrorist threats and events. The FY 2004 congressional appropriations for DHS provide funding for additional centers to be established among the nation’s universities. The department plans to establish these centers to work across a spectrum of short- and long-range research and development areas, carrying out crosscutting multidisciplinary research that brings together the nation’s best experts and focuses its most talented researchers on a variety of threats that include chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological, explosive, and cyber-threats.
HS-centers will do more than study threats. They will also look at technical means for delivering weapons; sources of vulnerability and thus of targets; public responses to attack or threats of attack; and roots of terrorism and the motivations and intent of terrorists.
In December 2004, DHS issued a Broad Agency Announcement to establish two additional HS-centers focusing on agro-terrorism, and the department expects to establish additional centers over the
next several years, with the topics for the remaining centers yet to be decided. These centers will be established within official guidelines, including legislation, that specify the following stated purposes:
Training a cadre of new leaders in science, engineering, and related fields;
Creating a technical and research skill base to address issues related to homeland security; and
Producing a broad range of products for strengthening homeland security and countering terrorism.
The individual centers are intended to be valuable producers in their own right, while supporting efforts across the larger DHS S&T program.
In planning for the creation of future HS-centers, the Office of University Programs sought the help of the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC). To this end, the NRC’s Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS) convened a 1-day workshop on January 29, 2004, that brought together DHS officials with key university officials as well as other experts (many of whom were involved in preparing the NRC report Making the Nation Safer, noted above). Appendix A includes a statement of the scope of work and the workshop agenda. Information on the workshop participants is given in Appendix B.
Conceived and tasked as a general brainstorming session to generate a broad range of ideas from which DHS might draw in defining future centers of excellence, the workshop was intended primarily to elicit ideas through a free-wheeling discussion. To help in planning the workshop, the NRC appointed a three-member organizing committee that did not include the workshop co-chairs. As agreed by the organizers and the sponsor (DHS), the workshop agenda formed only a loose framework to stimulate a discussion in which topics emerged, re-emerged, and intertwined over the course of the day. Within the context of existing official legislative guidelines for creating the HS-centers, workshop participants discussed and assessed topical multidisciplinary and crosscutting research areas to help inform DHS as it decides areas in which universities can contribute most effectively to the DHS mission. Participants also suggested additional ideas for consideration by DHS as it sets criteria for the selection of HS-centers. Viewgraphs presented to workshop participants and summarized in this report are posted on the DEPS Web site at www7.nationalacademies.org/deps.
This report summarizes the results of the workshop and presents the major ideas that emerged from the day’s discussions, assembling themes and ideas in an order based on the ideas themselves, rather than the order suggested by the agenda. This approach captures the ideas that the workshop generated but does not present the actual flow of conversation over the course of the day.
This workshop report does not make recommendations, nor does it prioritize the ideas that were generated. No priorities are implied in the order in which ideas are presented.
In accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee, this workshop summary was reviewed in draft form by Ashton Carter, Harvard University; Ruth David, Analytic Services Inc.; Marye Anne Fox, North Carolina State University; and Charles M. Vest, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The review was overseen by Robert A. Frosh, Harvard University. Their effort in this task is much appreciated. Final responsibility for the content of this workshop summary rests with the National Research Council and the author.