Statement on Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology: FY 2009

ACS Position Statement: FY 2009


ACS supports the proposal of $869 million (4.7 percent increase) for the S&T Directorate.

ACS Position

The American Chemical Society (ACS) urges Congress to support the administration’s request for the Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at a funding level of $869 million in FY 2009 (4.7 percent increase over FY 2008). ACS recognizes the difficult budget environment facing our nation’s policymakers, and we welcome the president’s emphasis on research and development (R&D) at DHS.

DHS needs a strong and prominent S&T component because it is crucial to our nation’s ability to deter and respond to terrorist threats. Given the various science and engineering challenges involved in homeland security, a robust S&T Directorate is critical to developing new scientific knowledge, facilitating the deployment of new and existing technologies, and coordinating technology-related priorities across the Department.

ACS is encouraged by the increase in DHS coordination with various agencies involved in our nation’s homeland security mission. We urge DHS to continue moving forward in collaboration with agencies having legacy homeland security interests, such as the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Defense. These agencies continue to share overlapping missions with DHS, and each one makes significant contributions to identifying research efforts, coordinating stakeholders, and establishing policy.

A central mission of DHS is to advance R&D applicable to the prevention of, detection of, and response to chemical, biological, and nuclear threats. Given the availability, lethal nature, and proliferation of chemical weapons and other chemical agents that could be used in an attack, ACS supports increased federal coordination and R&D investment to address these threats. We support, for example, the recommendation by the National Research Council to increase federal coordination and support for R&D on sensors to improve accuracy, sensitivity, portability, and detection of a wider range of agents. A related area that demands more support is R&D to advance effective and affordable decontamination methods for chemical and biological agents. Such an effort should draw on current R&D advances in hazardous waste decontamination. Success in these and other areas, including new vaccines and diagnostics, will require major contributions from chemical scientists and engineers.

ACS urges DHS to increase its investment in multi-year research projects. These longer-term projects are essential for research stability. The addition of peer-reviewed research to homeland security R&D, combined with longer duration projects, would encourage the development of next-generation technologies, as well as a cadre of scientists and engineers focused on S&T for homeland security applications. A longer-term technology development outlook would promote novel methodologies and new technologies to enhance our current capabilities and build on the strong base of scientific knowledge developed in industry, academia, and federal laboratories. Independent, scientific and technical planning advice being necessary to help guide these investments, we support extension of the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee that expired on January 31, 2008.

ACS joins Congress in encouraging DHS to be more customer-focused in its research and technology development activities. Proper analysis and assessment ensures that the most effective products, procedures, and policies will be implemented to provide technologies that fill our nation’s homeland security gaps. More-transparent assessment of national needs and more-targeted scientific research are essential to using taxpayer dollars effectively. Moreover, because the openness and proper review of scientific information is fundamental to scientific progress, it is critical that research supported by DHS be unclassified to the maximum extent possible—particularly since homeland security R&D will have significant peacetime applications.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization, chartered by Congress, with more than 160,000 chemical scientists and engineers as members. The world’s largest scientific society, ACS advances the chemical enterprise, increases public understanding of chemistry, and brings its expertise to bear on state and national matters.