H.R. 4842: Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act of 2010

H.R. 4842

Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act of 2010

Sponsor
Rep. Yvette D. Clarke

Date
July 20, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 4842 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) on March 15, 2010. The Committee on Homeland Security approved the bill by a vote of 26—0 on April 15, 2010.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4842 reauthorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Directorate of Science and Technology at $1.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 and $1.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2012.  In addition, the bill would authorize $306 million for Fiscal Year 2011 and $315 million for Fiscal Year 2012 for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.


Science & Technology Programs Directorate

Cybersecurity Research & Development:  The bill authorizes a total of $150 million for DHS cybersecurity research activities through Fiscal Year 2012. It requires the Science and Technology Directorate to support research, development, testing, evaluation, and transition of cybersecurity technology to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from cyber attacks, with an emphasis on large-scale, high-impact attacks.

 The bill authorizes DHS to establish a Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium for purposes of providing training to state and local first responders for preparing for, and responding to, cyber attacks and coordination of cybersecurity preparedness training activities. The consortium would consist of academic, nonprofit, and government partners that have demonstrated expertise in cybersecurity training.  The measure also authorizes DHS to establish a cybersecurity training center to provide training courses to state and local first responders to improve preparedness and response capabilities to cyber attacks.

Threats Research & DevelopmentThe bill authorizes the Science and Technology Directorate to conduct technology research, testing, evaluation and transition activities to protect the nation from biological, agricultural and chemical threats. Such research could include detection, identification, countermeasures, threat assessments, surveillance, forensics and recovery activities.

 Research & Development Projects:  The bill extends, through 2012, the authority of DHS to make expenditures to carry out basic, applied and advanced research and development projects through non-standard acquisitions procedures, commonly referred to as "other transaction authority," instead of the Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR).  The bill requires an annual report related to the exercise of other transaction authority that includes the subject areas that were researched, the extent of the cost share, and the extent to which the use of the authority has addressed a homeland security gap.

University-Based Centers:  The bill authorizes $40 million for the university-based centers program for Fiscal Year 2011 and $41.2 million for Fiscal Year 2012.  It specifies that existing areas of research, as defined in the Homeland Security Act, could include research of medical readiness and explosive countermeasures development.  The bill requires GAO to initiate a study of the university-based centers and provide recommendations for improvements.

Rapid Biological Threat Detection:  The bill directs the Science and Technology Directorate to assess whether DHS would benefit from technology to assist DHS personnel at ports of entry with entry and exit screening to rapidly detect infectious diseases among travelers. It requires the directorate to initiate research and development of such technology, to the extent possible, if it determines that such research should be undertaken.

National Urban Security Technology Laboratory:  The bill authorizes the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory through Fiscal Year 2012. It requires the Science and Technology Directorate to utilize the laboratory to test, evaluate, and analyze homeland security technologies in the field and in the laboratory.

Biological Threat AssaysAn assay is a test used to determine the presence of a certain substance.  The bill authorizes the Science and Technology Directorate, in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control, to develop assay equivalency standards to facilitate the establishment of consistent biological threat identification by federally operated bio-monitoring programs.  Upon the development of the assay equivalency standards, it requires DHS to apply the standards to department bio-monitoring programs and make the standards available to other federal agencies.

Cybersecurity Track at Certain InstitutionsThe bill requires DHS to commission a study to assess how best to create a new cybersecurity or information assurance capacity building track at colleges and universities that are not designated as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education or as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Research.

Homeland Security Science & Technology Fellows Program:  The bill directs the Science and Technology Directorate to establish the Homeland Security Science and Technology Fellows Program for scientists to be placed in relevant scientific and technological positions in paid positions within the directorate and components of DHS for up to two years.  Program participants would have to be currently enrolled in, or graduates of, post-graduate scientific or engineering programs.

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is responsible for coordinating DHS's efforts to develop a global nuclear detection architecture as well as a domestic system to detect attempts to bring nuclear and radiological material into the United States. The office intends to deploy radiation detection technology at all seaports and ports of entry by 2013 in order to screen 100 percent of cargo.

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Oversight:  The bill requires the DNDO, no later than 90 days after enactment, to begin an internal review of DNDO project selection methodology, research, development, testing and evaluation methodologies and priorities in order to set policy and track progress of projects.  DNDO would identify processes for research funding, describe roles, responsibilities, and procedures for research, development, testing, and evaluation, implement a research tracking system, implement a system to provide updates to customers, evaluate whether first responder needs are being addressed, establish a method to collect feedback, identify appropriate investment levels, and establish a formal merit review process. DNDO would submit a report to Congress containing the findings of the review, no later than a year after the completion of review.

Securing the Cities

The bill authorizes $20 million in Fiscal Year 2011 and $10 million in Fiscal Year 2012 for the Securing the Cities program.  It allows at least two additional cities that participate in the Urban Area Security Initiative to also participate in Securing the Cities.  Securing the Cities was launched by DHS Secretary Chertoff in July 2006 as way to protect a high-risk urban area, such as the New York City region, from a potential radiological or nuclear attack.

Strategic Plan for Global Nuclear DetectionThe measure requires DHS to submit a strategic plan for the domestic component of the global nuclear detection architecture to deter and detect the transport of nuclear materials by all means possible. The plan would include technological and non-technological methods to increase detection, the deterrent impact of a global detection architecture on would-be terrorists, necessary enhancements to existing technologies, and risk-based analysis of asset deployment.

Radiation Portal Monitor Alternatives:  The bill requires the DNDO to report about alternatives to existing technologies that would provide DHS with a significant increase in operational effectiveness for primary screening for radioactive materials.

Management & Administration

Management DirectiveThe bill requires DHS to establish requirements for how basic and applied homeland security research is identified, prioritized, funded, tasked and evaluated by the Science and Technology Directorate, including the roles of high-level department officials.  DHS would also produce quarterly updates on the research requirements and an annual assessment of homeland risks.  No later than one year after issuing the requirements, DHS would establish a mandatory workforce program to help directorate customers  better identify and prioritize homeland security capability gaps and a system to collect performance feedback from customers.

The bill would direct DHS to establish a system to monitor and account for homeland security research milestones, create a formal process for collecting feedback from customers on the effectiveness of the product delivered by the directorate, and establish standards and performance measures to be met by the directorate to provide high-quality service to its customers.

Testing, Evaluation & Standards:  The bill establishes a division of Testing, Evaluation, and Standards to assist Science and Technology Directorate customers in developing operational and performance testing plans and procedures, as well as in developing and coordinating the adoption of national homeland security standards.

Office of Public-Private Partnerships:  The bill establishes on Office of Public-Private Partnerships to engage and initiate outreach to persons in need of guidance on pursuing technology proposals with DHS, coordinate within the department on technology announcements, promote interaction between the public and private sector to accelerate transition research, and conduct market analysis of technologies. It authorizes $30 million in Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 for the office.

Background

The Science and Technology Directorate is the Department of Homeland Security’s primary research and development arm.  This bill would be the first authorization for the directorate since the creation of DHS in 2002.

The Science and Technology Directorate is responsible for promoting the development and deployment of cutting-edge technologies and new capabilities to improve homeland security, such as the development of countermeasures to terrorist threats, including those involving weapons of mass destruction. The Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations law appropriated $1 billion for the Science and Technology directorate, $74 million more than the previous year's funding level.

Cost

Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4842 would cost $2.9 billion over five years.