Industry awaits R&D strategy


Industry will play a large role in supporting the Bush administration's homeland security efforts with science and technology, but the government is still working on the mechanism for determining that role, a lead administration official said May 29.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is creating the research and development chapter of the administration's homeland security national strategy. The chapter will focus on a long-term mechanism for gathering ideas and technologies from the private sector and putting them to use in the government, John Marburger, director of OSTP, said at a media briefing.

The Office of Homeland Security expects to deliver the national strategy to the president by early July, and the recommendations from the soon-to-be-released National Academies study on the role of science and technology in homeland security will figure into that chapter, Marburger said.

But industry needs to understand that the identification and use of technology can only come after the government has determined what it will be used for, he said.

There are four steps in the process, he said:

* Identifying and prioritizing threats.

* Determining and agreeing upon a response for each threat.

* Specifying the technologies needed to support those responses.

* Seeing what is available in the market or what research and development must happen.

Industry can provide a lot of help in the last two steps, but the government is still working on the first two, Marburger said. Companies that want to offer their products for problems are bound to get frustrated, "but it's simply going to take some time," he said.

The National Academies' study is focusing on identifying potential existing technology solutions and possible areas for research and development in nine homeland security areas. The study could help find short-term solutions as well as help OSTP determine the best long-term mechanism, said Lewis Branscomb, co-chairman of the study. But it will also help the private sector figure out where it needs to ramp up its own resources, markets and security, he said.

The study is going through the independent technical review and should be released by the end of June, Branscomb said.


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