DHS Officials Question Lab R&D Focus; Sandia Labs' Jill Hruby Comments

Site: eere.energy.gov

The Department of Homeland Security’s 2002 founding legislation indicates it can fund research and development projects for other agencies such as the Energy Department. 

However, Daniel Gerstein, DHS’ deputy undersecretary for science and technology, told a House subcommittee April 19 that the agency has too much emphasis on development and not enough on basic or applied research, Fierce Homeland Security reports. 

Gerstein told the Homeland Security subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection and security technologies he wants the DHS to have an immediate impact and get products to the homeland security enterprise. 

DHS provides funding for 12 DOE facilities, including 10 national labs. 

The national labs DHS funds now serve more as contractors than innovators, according to Jill Hruby, vice president of international, homeland and nuclear security at Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia Labs recently released statements that it was developing concepts for a nuclear powered drone with defense contractor Northrop Grumman. 

Hruby expressed concern that the homeland security innovation pipeline is drying up, saying Sandia’s scientists and engineers feel that the small projects the facility focuses on are not the best way to put their talents to work. 

The objection is not in regard to money, but instead to the average project size.

Hruby said the lab’s role is not the right fit for contractor-style projects and suggested the Mission Executive Council will work to make sure the labs are being properly used for the right kind of research. 

The council, comprised of DHS, DOE, Defense Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence leaders, meets regularly to discuss use of DOE lab funding. 

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