DHS forms new research centers

The Homeland Security Department has hired two not-for-profit organizations for up to $712 million for up to five years to run two new research and development centers. The centers will both be Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs).

DHS hired the Mitre Corp. to operate one of the centers, the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute (HSSEDI), for what could be up to $443 million over five years, officials said in a statement March 5. The department also announced it had hired Analytic Services to operate its new Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute (HSSAI) for up to $269 million over five years. Both contracts are for one year with up to four one-year extension options.

HSSEDI will help DHS evolve concepts for systems, use best practices in life cycle systems engineering and management and provide technical and integration expertise for programs, DHS officials said. Meanwhile, officials said HSSAI will help the department with homeland security analysis and expertise focusing on program objectives, system requirements, and metrics.

The HSSAI will replace the Homeland Security Institute, another DHS-sponsored, federally funded research and development centers (FFRDC). with a charter that expires in April. That center is also run by Analytic Services.

Government departments and agencies sponsor 38 centers, according to the National Science Foundation, which keeps a list of FFRDCs. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office said the government spent about $13 billion on the centers in fiscal 2006, which amounts to 14 percent of the government's R&D expenditures.

The centers are modeled on the types of special partnerships that government and academia developed in the 1940s. The centers’ proponents say the access, beyond that of a typical contractor, that the centers get to government data lets FFRDCs give the government independent analysis and advice that otherwise would not be available.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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