President Bush on Tuesday proposed launching a systematic national effort to harness science and technology in support of homeland security. Bush wants to build a national research and development “enterprise” for homeland security “sufficient to mitigate the risk posed by modern terrorism.”
Under the proposed plan, the government will consolidate most federally-funded homeland security research and development under a new Department of Homeland Security in order to “ensure strategic direction and avoid duplicative efforts.” The president said he proposes to create and implement a long-term research and development plan that includes investment in “revolutionary capabilities with high payoff potential.”
Bush also said the federal government will also seek to “harness the energy and ingenuity of the private sector” to develop and produce the devices and systems needed for homeland security.
“Information systems contribute to every aspect of homeland security. Although American information technology is the most advanced in the world, our country’s information systems have not adequately supported the homeland security mission,” the White House’s executive summary of the plan states. “Databases used for federal law enforcement, immigration, intelligence, public health surveillance, and emergency management have not been connected in ways that allow us to comprehend where information gaps or redundancies exist.”
The summary also says there are deficiencies in the communications systems used by states and municipalities throughout the country in that most state and local first responders do not use compatible communications equipment.
“To secure the homeland better, we must link the vast amounts of knowledge residing within each government agency while ensuring adequate privacy,” the report states.
To help implement the plan, the administration has identified five major initiatives: