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Homeland Security

Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee Charter

Note: The charter is effective June 21, 2013 through June 21, 2015.

Committee's Official Designation

Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC).


This charter establishes the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee under the authority of Title 6 United States Code, section 451.   This committee is established in accordance with and operates under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), Title 5 United States Code, Appendix.

Objectives and Scope of Activities

The HSSTAC provides consensus scientific and technical advice to the Under Secretary for Science and Technology (S&T).  Its activities focus on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) S&T mission to strengthen America’s security and resiliency by providing knowledge products and innovative technology solutions for the Homeland Security Enterprise.  The committee addresses areas of interest and importance to the Under Secretary, such as new developments in systems engineering, cyber-security, knowledge management and how best to leverage related technologies funded by other federal agencies and by the private sector. The committee also advises the Under Secretary on policies, management processes, and organizational constructs as needed.

Upon request, the committee provides scientifically- and technically-based advice to the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Description of Duties

The duties of HSSTAC are solely advisory in nature.

Officials to Whom the Committee Reports

The HSSTAC reports to the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.

Agency Responsible for Providing Necessary Support

The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for providing financial and administrative support to HSSTAC.  Within DHS, the Science and Technology Directorate is responsible for providing financial and administrative support to the HSSTAC.

Estimated Annual Operating Costs and Staff Years

Assuming a full committee and full meeting schedule, the estimated annual operating costs are not to exceed $500,000 including travel, logistics support, and personnel costs for 1.0 staff years of support. The expected cost for the remainder of FY13 is $113,000.

Designated Federal Officer

The Under Secretary for Science and Technology will appoint an employee of the S&T Directorate as the HSSTAC Designated Federal Officer (DFO) and an Alternate DFO.   The DFO or the Alternate DFO approves or calls HSSTAC meetings and any HSSTAC subcommittee meetings, approves meeting agendas, attends all committee and subcommittee meetings, adjourns any meeting when the DFO determines adjournment to be in the public interest, and chairs meetings when directed to do so by the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.

Estimated Number and Frequency of Meetings

The HSSTAC meets no more than quarterly or at the request of the chair and the approval of the DFO.  When possible and where applicable, virtual options will be pursued in lieu of in-person meetings. Subcommittees and ad hoc task forces meet as required to accomplish their specific tasks.  Members may be reimbursed for travel and per diem, and all HSSTAC business travel must be approved in advance by the DFO or Alternate DFO.  Committee meetings are open to the public unless a determination is made by the appropriate DHS official in accordance with DHS policy and directives that the meeting should be closed in accordance with Title 5, United States Code, subsection (c) of section 552b.




This charter is in effect for two years from the date it is filed with Congress unless sooner terminated.  The charter may be renewed at the end of this two-year period in accordance with section 14 of FACA.

Member Composition

The HSSTAC consists of up to 20 members who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary.  To ensure both stimulating and pragmatic opinions, the committee includes public and private sector perspectives from industry, academe and government (including former members of Federal Government or former or current members of state or local government who can provide the perspective of government implementation of any recommendations).  Members will be selected based on their expertise, knowledge and contribution to a diverse range of science and technology topic areas (including but not limited to chemical, and biological defense, cybersecurity, explosives, resilience, first responder technology capabilities and needs, and the latest thinking in systems engineering), and their depth of experience in applying these areas of science and technology to real-world problems and transitioning innovative products into use.  Members shall serve as Special Government Employees as defined in section 202(a) of title 18, United States Code.

Members shall serve terms of office of two years.  A person who has completed two consecutive full terms of service on the HSSTAC is ineligible for re-appointment during the one-year period following the expiration of the second term.

A member appointed to fill an unexpired term shall serve the remainder of that term.  In the event HSSTAC terminates, all appointments to the committee shall terminate.


The Under Secretary for Science and Technology shall appoint one of the members of HSSTAC as chair and one of the members as vice-chair.  The vice-chair will act as chair in the absence or incapacity of chair or in the event of a vacancy in the office of chair.  The term of office of chair and vice-chair will be one year, and members may serve more than one term.


The DFO may approve the establishment of subcommittees for any purpose consistent with this charter.  Such subcommittees may not work independently of the chartered committee and must report their recommendations and advice to HSSTAC for full deliberation and discussion.  Subcommittees have no authority to make decisions on behalf of HSSTAC and may not report directly to the Federal Government or any other entity.

Record Keeping

The records of HSSTAC, formally and informally established subcommittees or other subgroups of the committee, shall be handled in accordance with General Records Schedule 26, Item 2 or other approved agency records disposition schedule.  These records shall be available for public inspection and copying, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (Title 5, United States Code, section 552).

Filing Dates

June 19, 2013
Department Approval Date

June 20, 2013
CMS Consultation Date

July 29, 2013
Date Filed with Congress

Last Published Date: August 29, 2013
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