Taking more risks for better tech

Four months after being sworn in as undersecretary in charge of DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate, Reginald Brothers told lawmakers his team is getting better at coordinating R&D.

Reginald Brothers of DHS

DHS Undersecretary for Science and Technology Reginald Brothers says his office is developing a long-term strategy with a greater focus on "more aggressive, higher potential impact programs."

Congress got an update Sept. 9 on how the Department of Homeland Security's research and development arm is faring in addressing its reputation for poor strategic planning.

The verdict? DHS's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is embracing the risk of investing in "high-impact" technology, Undersecretary for Science and Technology Reginald Brothers told lawmakers, and is drawing up a more clearly defined R&D strategy for the next 5 to 10 years. Brothers testified at a joint hearing of subcommittees of the House Homeland Security and Science, Space and Technology panels.

S&T commands a budget of more than a billion dollars and the immense responsibility of coordinating national security R&D across a department that was cobbled together from 22 different agencies in 2002 and 2003.

Yet the directorate's track record, as relayed by the Government Accountability Office, has been problematic. As GAO gathered information for a 2012 report on S&T, DHS "struggled to answer basic questions such as, 'how much are you spending?' 'what projects are currently underway?' and 'do completed projects meet the needs of their customers?'" David Maurer, director of GAO's homeland security and justice division, said at the hearing.

DHS at that time did not have a clear definition for R&D, nor did it know the total amount its components invested in R&D, according to the GAO report. The department has since defined R&D, a prerequisite for developing an overarching strategy. Maurer noted in his testimony that S&T had also "made important strides in taking a more strategic approach and tightening its links with the rest of DHS."

In their opening statements, Republican and Democratic lawmakers took turns listing what they said were S&T deficiencies in tracking and measuring R&D investments, but expressed hope that Brothers, who took the directorate’s helm in April, could right the organizational ship.

Brothers told the congressmen his office is developing a long-term strategy, to be issued later this year, that will include a greater focus on "more aggressive, higher potential impact programs."

S&T cannot be content with driving near-term technological fixes to security challenges, Brothers added, but should strive for the cutting-edge. Both DHS and national security depend, in part, he said, on S&T being more tolerant of risk.

And while S&T has developed a reputation for low workforce morale -- it ranked 299th out of 300 agency subcomponents in the most recent "Best Places to Work" index -- Brothers' prepared testimony declared that he found the team to be "passionate and dedicated."

Allowing that much was still required to "transform the directorate into a 21st century federal R&D organization," Brothers said that, "walking the halls, I am invigorated by the widespread enthusiasm for our mission."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.