DHS launches project portal for first responders

DHS Science and Technology Directorate’s TechSolutions Web site

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The Homeland Security Department is offering to use as much as $8 million on  projects that first responders specifically request.

Under the Science and Technology Directorate’s TechSolutions portal launched last month, fire, police, emergency medical services and other first responders can submit a question, problem, challenge or technology to address mission capability gaps.

Jay Cohen, DHS’ undersecretary for science and technology, said today work on the Web site is similar to the work he did when he was with the Navy.

“We must have direct communications with our customers because they understand their problems and challenges,” Cohen said today after a speech at DHS’ Office of Interoperability and Compatibility Conference in Washington. “If they want us to do research or do more testing of their solutions, anything that would help them.”

Cohen said he set aside 1 percent of the directorate’s budget, about $880 million for fiscal 2007, for projects submitted by first responders that will take less than a year and cost less than $1 million.

“Goals will be accomplished through rapid prototyping and the identification of existing technologies that satisfy identified requirements,” the Tech Solutions Web site states.

The portal is a part of the directorate’s reinvigorated focus, Cohen said.

“We made several structural changes in the 2007 budget such as creating the Office of Emergency Communications and Office of Health Affairs, and moving systems to the customers so they deal with maintenance issues,” he said. “We are investing our money in research and development projects such as BioWatch 3.”

Cohen said projects started four years ago will be moved to the divisions for management, and the directorate’s budget will be used more for innovation.

He added that 2007 is a realignment year to show Congress and industry how the directorate will work from now on.

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