DHS directorate hungry for ideas

Technical Support Working Group

The door is wide open at the Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate as it looks for the best short-term solutions and long-term ideas for security, the directorate's top official told Congress today.

The directorate is seeking the best ideas for using technology to protect the United States and is making it easier for companies to pitch them, said Charles McQueary, the undersecretary for science and technology, testifying before the Cybersecurity, Science, and Research and Development Subcommittee of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

"If you know something specifically, contact us," McQueary said. "We are anxious to hear about as many things as we can. I personally am trying to get out and hear as many things as I can."

Members of the subcommittee, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who represents Silicon Valley, said they have been inundated with calls from companies seeking advice on how to get their ideas and solutions to DHS.

"It is my hope that we can as rapidly as possible determine ... what is out there. How it can be used and how it can be quickly deployed," said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), a panel member.

McQueary said the Technical Support Working Group already is evaluating more than 500 idea-filled e-mails, mostly from small businesses. The group's e-mail address is science.technology@dhs.gov.

DHS last week issued a broad announcement about the kinds of projects it is interested in developing. The announcement can be viewed on the working group's Web site, www.tswg.gov.

"I'd give you my own telephone number, but it's ringing off the hook already," McQueary told the panel.

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said he would put together a resource list so lawmakers can direct their constituents to the right phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

"Our primary focus is to investigate what kinds of things already exist in America, where they could be brought to the test stage and subsequent production quickly," McQueary said.

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