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DHS office to focus on science and technology.

Since its inception in March, the Department of Homeland Security has provided nearly $4 billion in funding and has run about 400 emergency action plan evaluation exercises for states and communities, according to Charles McQueary, the undersecretary for science and technology.

The science and technology department of DHS has received almost $500 million this year, while the president's budget for 2004 requested another $800 million, he said. This funding will accomplish several goals:

* Establish a clearinghouse with the Technical Support Working Group to rapidly prototype homeland security technologies.

* Accelerate the deployment of biological, chemical and radiological tools and technologies.

* Work with federal, state, and local goverments and organizations to develop standards for first responder technologies.

* Anticipate emerging threats and protect critical infrastructure through science and engineering.

DHS recently created the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA), a cousin to the Defense Department's DARPA agency, he explained. David Bolka has been the agency's director since September.

"HSARPA will help jumpstart and steer homeland security R&D toward the Department's high priority needs, areas such as port security and critical infrastructure protection," said McQueary.

At press time, HSARPA had just issued its first research solicitations, for biological and chemical detection systems.

"Our goal for this first solicitation is to develop and transition to the field the next generation of biological and chemical detectors," said McQueary. "These detectors will significantly advance the capabilities of our first responders and federal programs to counter terrorism."

The biological countermeasure area is seeking ideas for Bioagent Autonomous Network Detectors to monitor outdoor urban and marine/shipboard areas for presence of bacteria, viruses or toxins.

In addition, bids will be requested for Rapid Automated Biological Identification Systems, which will monitor buildings, such as shopping malls, stadiums and large ships.

The chemical countermeasures area will seek concepts for an Autonomous Rapid Facility Chemical Agent Monitor that can monitor facilities for the presence of both toxic industrial chemicals and chemical warfare agents. The solicitation also requests ideas for the development of a Lightweight Autonomous Chemical Identification System, a hand-held device for first responders.

The third project in the chemical arena is the Portable High throughput Integrated Laboratory Identification System (PHILIS) which will be capable of analyzing thousands of samples to help identify areas that may be contaminated by dangerous chemicals. PHILIS will be designed to be self-contained and easy to transport to suspected contamination sites.
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Title Annotation:Security Beat
Author:Fein, Geoff S.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Previous Article:Army contracts out force protection at U.S. bases.
Next Article:DHS to partner with industry to protect cyberspace.

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