Federal Research and Development Organization, Policy, and Funding for Counterterrorism

Before the September 11th terrorist attacks, experts questioned whether the government was prepared adequately to conduct and use research and development (R&D) to counter terrorism. They cited inadequate planning; conflicting information about agency funding; the absence of coordinated ways to set priorities and eliminate duplication; and the need to use research resources effectively. Mechanisms have been established since then to set specific R&D priorities and to coordinate interagency policy. The Office of Homeland Security (OHS), created by Executive Order 13228, does not list R&D among its major responsibilities, but R&D is a topic of one of the interagency Policy Coordination Committees attached to the Homeland Security Council (HSC), OHS's interagency group. The director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was not named to participate in OHS activities, but an OSTP staff member is filling the HSC interagency R&D policy coordination role. The President gave OSTP responsibilities for policies regarding foreign student visas, foreign enrollment in "sensitive" courses, and technology for immigration. The National Science and Technology Council, an interagency body, staffed by OSTP, has five antiterrorism R&D working groups. Proposals have been made to expand the interagency Technical Support Working Group and the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which have funded counterterrorism R&D in the past. The House passed H.R. 5005 , an amended version of legislation that the President sent to Congress to create a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which would plan, fund, and coordinate some R&D. S. 2452 , the Lieberman substitute agreed to by the Governmental Affairs Committee, would give broader R&D authority to a national homeland security department. Each proposal would create different kinds of units to analyze and evaluate counterterrorism technologies before procurement and deployment and to coordinate some federal counterterrorism R&D. The President's FY2003 counterterrorism R&D budget request was $3 billion; the DHS envisioned in H.R. 5005 would handle about 17% of this, comprised of about $300 million of newly authorized R&D and between $200 to $300 million of already authorized R&D to be transferred to the proposed department. Bioterrorism R&D funding is managed largely by the Defense and Health and Human Services departments. Each agency has intra-agency coordination mechanisms, and formal interagency groups have been established. The interagency President's Critical Infrastructure Board has responsibility for information security R&D; OSTP was tasked to help it coordinate R&D priorities and the board was authorized to request federal agencies to fund priority R&D programs. Among the issues to be considered in creating a new homeland security department with R&D responsibilities are: which R&D areas should be transferred; can other related R&D be coordinated effectively and without erecting barriers between the conduct of civilian and security-related R&D; and how should the existing counterterrorism R&D coordination mechanisms in OSTP, OHS and other departments be linked to a homeland security department with R&D responsibilities?