Research official stewards anti-terrorism complex

A Homeland Security Department official charged with research and development compared today's efforts with the nation's activities 60 years ago during the advent of nuclear weapons.

"I have a responsibility for what I call federal stewardship," the department's research and development Director Maureen McCarthy said in an interview last week. She said she is tasked with the responsibility to build a homeland security complex -- much like the nuclear weapons complex -- to respond to the country's needs in the future.

The nation's nuclear investments created a complex that became the key element of deterrence to nuclear war, she said. "And that's what my goal is [now] ... to create the breadth and the depth of dedicated people in state-of-the-art facilities with government funded programs working on the really hard problems. So that at the end of the day we become a deterrent to terrorism."

McCarthy spoke with National Journal's Technology Daily reporters last week in a round of interviews that also included Homeland Security officials like Charles McQueary, undersecretary for science and technology.

McCarthy said Homeland Security's science and technology division carries the lead advocacy for anti-terrorism technologies by focusing on key portfolios, including border and transportation security, intelligence analysis, critical infrastructure, and emergency preparedness and response. She said officials prioritize each portfolio using a "threat matrix" to identify the most dangerous and difficult terrorist threats.

The division's programs, plans and budgets office coordinates with the department's 22 different agencies -- such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Coast Guard -- to identify and prioritize their technological needs. The unit then passes those requirements on to the three execution offices: R&D, HSARPA and systems engineering.

Thus research officials are not hunting for the latest new gadgets, she said, because the science and the tech division needs to deploy technology for an operational environment. The division has to bridge the two missions of homeland security: its traditional activities - search and rescue, border patrol, etc. -- with the need for preparation and response efforts related to terrorist threats.

She also said the division would not invest in fundamental science but plans to work with organizations such as the Energy and Defense departments and the National Science Foundation (NSF) that support fundamental science research.

Homeland Security's R&D component, according to McCarthy, invests in technologies not otherwise funded by the private sector, primarily those designed to counter and characterize threats of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological terrorism.

McCarthy also is working on a congressionally mandated report on a management plan to merge the various Homeland Security agencies' R&D activities. The first portion of the report -- required in the department's fiscal 2004 spending bill -- is due Feb. 15.

While McCarthy believes in a coordinated R&D effort, she also wants each R&D division to remain connected to operation officials. "You don't want to rip them away from connections with operational end users," she said. "They know what it's like to work with a custom or border official."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.