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The Department of Homeland Security's R&D Budget Priorities for Fiscal Year 2008

Date: 
Thursday, March 8, 2007 - 12:00am
Location: 
Washington, DC

Opening Statement By Chairman David Wu

I would like to call the Subcommittee to order.

I want to welcome everyone to this morning’s hearing on the FY 08 research and development budget for the Department of Homeland Security. I want to offer a special welcome to Under Secretary Jay Cohen, who joined the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate in August 2006. Your reputation as a problem-solver precedes you from the Office of Naval Research. I also want to welcome our other witnesses, who represent a valuable pool of expertise across homeland security-related topics. Mr. Vayl (pronounced Vail) Oxford is the Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office at the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to his appointment to DNDO, Mr. Oxford served as the Director for Counterproliferation at the National Security Council. Dr. Gerald Epstein is a senior fellow for science and security in the Homeland Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He has served at the Institute for Defense Analyses, and with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Mr. Jonah Czerwinski (pronounced Sir-win-skee) is a Senior Fellow for Homeland Security with IBM’s Global Leadership Initiative. He is also a Senior Advisor for Homeland Security Projects at the Center for the Study of the Presidency. Ms. Marilyn Ward is the executive director of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council. Representative Gingrey will tell us a little more about her background in a moment.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on how to support a world-class R&D enterprise at the Department of Homeland Security that helps keep our communities safe.

When the Science Committee helped write the legislation authorizing the R&D programs at DHS, we envisioned an organization that would support the science and technology needs of people on the front lines of domestic security- from first responders to computer security professionals, from medical workers to civil engineers. Frankly, it’s been a rough start. We’re familiar with management problems that have caused a lack of focus on important R&D priorities and the attrition of the best and the brightest minds from the S&T Directorate. I’ve also heard from communities and cities which feel that DHS R&D programs at the S&T Directorate and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) have not been entirely responsive to their needs.

But I remain hopeful. Under Secretary Cohen has launched an ambitious new management structure to ensure a more cohesive S&T Directorate. Hopefully, the R&D results will flow smoothly from the earliest research concepts to the most advanced technology development. Only time will tell whether the changes Under Secretary Cohen has made will bring about the radical improvements to the S&T Directorate that our nation needs. Under Secretary Cohen has admirably acknowledged the problems within the S&T Directorate, which is the first step in developing a solution. This Committee stands ready to work with Under Secretary Cohen and all of his staff to ensure that we have a strong and responsive S&T Directorate.

I am concerned though about the lack of a strategic plan or risk assessment that should be the basis for research priorities within the Department of Homeland Security. We can fund billions of dollars in research, but if we don’t pay attention to the risks we should be addressing, we won’t have the answers we need when we need them. We can base research on anecdotal impressions of need, but that is not the scientific approach that the American people have a right to expect. I strongly encourage you to carry out a detailed, scientific risk assessment soon, so that we know whether our investments are in the right place. Nuclear threats will obviously be a major part of any threat assessment. I am especially eager to see signs of close cooperation between the S&T Directorate and Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. It is imperative that you take advantage of the complementary efforts of your offices and avoid duplication.

I am committed to working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that R&D investments are successful in increasing our knowledge of how to confront catastrophes, whether from human or natural causes. I look forward to hearing all of the witnesses’ thoughts on the FY 08 budget request and how that budget supports science and technology to make our nation safer.

I now want to recognize my colleague and the ranking member from Georgia, Dr. Gingrey, for his opening remarks.

Witnesses

Panel

1 - Hon. Jay M. Cohen
Under Secretary for Science and Technology Department of Homeland Security Department of Homeland Security
Download the Witness Testimony

2 - Mr. Vayl Oxford
Director Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office Department of Homeland Security
Download the Witness Testimony

3 - Dr. Gerald Epstein
Senior Fellow, Homeland Security Program Center for Strategic and International Studies Center for Strategic and International Studies
Download the Witness Testimony

4 - Mr. Jonah J. Czerwinski
Senior Advisor for Homeland Security Projects at the Center for the Study of the Presidency Senior Fellow, Global Leadership Initiative, IBM Corp. Senior Fellow
Download the Witness Testimony

5 - Ms. Marilyn Ward
Executive Director National Public Safety Telecommunications Council National Public Safety Telecommunications Council
Download the Witness Testimony

Witness Panel
Witness panel testifies before the Subcommittee
From L-R: Hon. Jay Cohen, Mr. Oxford, Dr. Epstein, Mr. Czerwinski, Ms. Ward
For information on the witnesses, use the links at left
110th Congress