Federal Homeland Security Research and Development Funding: Issues of Data Quality

Section 889 of the Homeland Security Act, P.L. 107-296 , requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to report homeland security budget data annually to Congress and to consult with Congress to identify homeland security activities for this purpose. Accurate information is needed in order to set and coordinate priorities and policy for federal homeland security research and development (R&D). P.L. 107-296 gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, acting through the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, coordination responsibilities to ensure that federal homeland security R&D serves DHS's internal needs, supports the agencies transferred to DHS, contributes to presidentially defined homeland security missions, and ensures that federal homeland security R&D programs do not duplicate or leave gaps. According to the Under Secretary, federal homeland security R&D will be coordinated by fall 2004. Legislation has been introduced to require DHS to prioritize and consolidate all of its R&D activities that are not now managed by the agency's Science and Technology Directorate ( H.R. 4141 / S. 2285 ). OMB data show that federal funding for homeland security R&D was requested at $3.6 billion for FY2005; DHS's R&D programs constitute about one-third of total funding. Other agencies with large homeland security R&D budgets are the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Commerce. OMB has collected cross-agency funding data on homeland security R&D for several years. This is a difficult task on which OMB is making progress. Data are now collected for different purposes; data sets often conflict. In its Combating Terrorism reports, OMB publishes summary data by agency on combating terrorism R&D and summarizes some programs. It describes homeland security R&D as a subset of combating terrorism R&D and has not published data on homeland security R&D funding, per se . OMB publishes data on homeland security funding by agency, subdivided by programs or units, in tables appended to the FY2005 budget request. It is not possible to identify clearly programs for R&D using these data. OMB has also produced an unpublished homeland security R&D data table; it is not widely circulated and gives only total funding by agency. A 2004 Congressional Budget Office report found shortcomings in federal homeland security funding data. Problems with the accuracy and consistency of R&D data may be caused by inaccurate reporting, federal agencies' use of different definitions, or changing conceptions of "homeland security" over time. Among options Congress could consider are requiring agencies to use standardized definitions of homeland security R&D, or mandating that OMB or DHS prepare an annual accounting specifically of homeland security R&D funding and activities. See also CRS Report RL32481(pdf) , Homeland Security R&D Funding and Activities in Federal Agencies: A Preliminary Inventory , by Genevieve J. Knezo. This report will not be updated.