There are important science and technology components in the
Homeland Security Act that was signed by President Bush. The new
law, P.L. 107-296, is immense; the table of contents alone is 14
pages long. It is expected that a year will be needed to
organize the new Department of Homeland Security. In the
physical sciences, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will be
the most immediately affected by the new legislation.
While many aspects of this bill were controversial, the S&T components
were drafted with the bipartisan support of key members in the House
and Senate. In June, the administration sent Congress a bill that would
authorize establishment of the department. Twenty-two days later, the
House Science Committee held a hearing at which members advocated an
Under Secretary for Science and Technology (see /fyi/2002/082.html
.) A hearing later that afternoon by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee was somewhat more contentious, with key senators pushing for
broader involvement of all the national laboratories in the new department.
P.L. 107-296 reflects almost all of the changes supported by the Science
Committee, and ensures a broad input of the national laboratories into
the department's work. Here are some of the major S&T items in the
law pertaining to the physical sciences:
First, "A Directorate of Science and Technology headed by an Under
Secretary for Science and Technology" is established. The Under
Secretary will advise the Secretary on R&D efforts, priorities,
goals, objectives and policies. Fourteen responsibilities are spelled
out for this position in Section 302 of P.L. 107-296. Readers wishing
the read the language pertaining to this or the various sections listed
below may do so by going to the "Homeland Security Act of 2002"
At the June Senate hearing, there was much discussion about the role
of the national laboratories. Section 303 of this law includes "The
advanced scientific computing research program and activities at Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory" under Functions Transferred. The
Senate hearing provides good insight into the administration's thinking
about what this would mean to affected employees, with one administration
witness saying the changes would be more of a philosophical and administration
nature (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2002/082.html.)
Five other DOE programs were also transferred.
The two senators from New Mexico went to great lengths at this
hearing to ensure that all of the laboratories would be involved
in the work of the new department. The law reflects this in a
number of its provisions, perhaps most explicitly in Section 309
which states "the Secretary may utilize the Department of Energy
national laboratories and sites through any 1 or more of the
following methods, as the Secretary considers appropriate." It
then lists a joint sponsorship arrangement, direct contract,
"work for others" arrangement, and "any other method
There are other S&T provisions of note. Section 305 allows the
Under Secretary to contract with federally funded research and
development centers "to provide independent analysis of homeland
security issues." Section 307 authorizes a Homeland Security
Advanced Research Projects Agency, whose director will "award
competitive, merit-reviewed grants, cooperative agreements or
contacts to public or private entities," including universities.
This DARPA-like unit is authorized (not appropriated) $500
million for FY 2003. Section 308 states the department is to
"operate extramural research, development, demonstration, testing
and evaluation programs so as to . . . ensure that colleges,
universities, private research institutes, and companies . . .
from as many areas of the United States as practicable
participate." This same section also calls for the establishment
of a "university-based center or centers for homeland security.
The purpose of this center or centers shall be to establish a
coordinated university-based system to enhance the Nation's
homeland security." Following this is a "Criteria for Selection"
consisting of 15 items that "shall" be considered in selecting
this center. Many have charged that this singles out one
Section 311 of the law calls for the establishment of a 20-member
Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee. It
will provide an annual report including "identifying research
areas of potential importance to the security of the Nation."
Section 312 establishes a Homeland Security Institute that will
be run as a federally funded research and development center. It
will provide a range of analytical capabilities. Finally,
Section 313 establishes a centralized federal clearinghouse for
information relating to homeland security technologies.
As is true with all departments and agencies, authorizations
describe programs, jurisdictions, responsibilities, and funding
limits. P.L. 107-296 does not provide the actual money to run
this department. That funding is bogged down in the
appropriations process, expected to be resolved when Congress
returns next year.