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DNDO 2011 Accomplishments

The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office was established in December 2017 by consolidating primarily the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, a majority of the Office of Health Affairs, as well as other DHS elements.

For current information related to CWMD, please visit the following:

Woman using radiation detection equipmentIn 2011, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) continued to excel in its mission by integrating efforts to develop technical nuclear detection capabilities, measuring detector system performance, ensuring effective response to detection alarms, advancing and integrating nuclear forensics efforts, and conducting transformational research and development for advanced detection technologies. DNDO's work supports the private sector, small businesses, and academic institutions; in 2011, DNDO supported small businesses through 174 contracts totaling over $57 million.

DNDO is the lead agency in the U.S. government for implementing domestic nuclear detection efforts and developing a global nuclear detection architecture (GNDA). Countering nuclear terrorism is a whole-of-government challenge, and DNDO works with federal, state, local, tribal, international, and private sector partners to fulfill this mission.

Coordinating the Detection Architecture

  • DNDO launched a three-year plan of action for the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) Nuclear Detection Working Group to develop best practices that will significantly enhance the global nuclear detection architecture (GNDA). In the first year of this work plan, DNDO led the 82-nation GICNT Nuclear Detection Group efforts in developing the Best Practices Guide on Awareness, Training and Exercises for radiological and nuclear detection.
  • DNDO submitted to Congress the GNDA Joint Annual Interagency Review 2011, which included information about the multiple USG programs that collectively seek to prevent nuclear or radiological terrorism against the United States by means of detection, analysis, and reporting on nuclear or radiological materials out of regulatory control.
  • DNDO led Department-wide efforts to establish a joint DHS-International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) work plan that will guide interactions through the next several years, formalizing the Department's strong partnership with the IAEA. These interactions have directly resulted in the development of three new IAEA Nuclear Security Series recommendations and guidance-level publications, updates to two other existing publications, and conceptualization of two completely new nuclear detection related guidance-level documents. Promulgated to all 151 IAEA Member States, these publications will enhance the development of the GNDA.

Implementing Nuclear Detection Capabilities

  • DNDO continued its partnership with New York City region through the Securing the Cities (STC) Program. Through STC:
    • Over 11,000 personnel have been trained in radiological and nuclear detection operations in the NY Region;
    • Approximately 6,000 pieces of radiological detection equipment have been procured in the NY region; and
    • DNDO sponsored a region-wide full-scale exercise for radiological and nuclear detection capabilities in the New York City region to assess the ability of STC partners to detect radiological and nuclear materials and deploy personnel, equipment and special units in response to threat-based intelligence.
  • DNDO facilitated the delivery of radiological and nuclear detection training to more than 4,700 state and local officers and first responders nationwide DNDO established strategic training partnerships within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
  • DNDO deployed Mobile Detection Deployment Units (MDDU) for radiological and nuclear detection surge deployments in support of state and local law enforcement at eight special security events.
  • DNDO worked with United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to maintain Radiation Portal Monitor (RPM) scanning of 100% of land border and 99.77% of seaport containerized cargo for radiological and nuclear threats.
  • DNDO developed regional radiological and nuclear detection architectures in San Diego and Puget Sound to reduce the risk of radiological and nuclear threats that could be transported on recreational or small commercial vessels. As part of this effort, DNDO cooperated with 31 federal, state, local, and tribal partners; facilitated training to over 1950 personnel; and delivered 687 radiation detectors.

Creating Nuclear Detection Standards and Evaluating Systems

  • DNDO conducted 24 test and evaluation campaigns of radiation detection equipment to assist federal, state and local responders in determining which nuclear detection systems best suit their operational needs.
  • DNDO tested 16 commercial systems through the Graduated Radiological/Nuclear Detector Evaluation and Reporting (GRaDERSM) Program, which facilitates independent testing against American National Standards Institute (ANSI) N42 performance standards to assist federal, state, and local law enforcement in making procurement decisions.
  • DNDO partnered with the European Commission’s Joint Research Center to conduct the Illicit Trafficking Radioactive Assessment Program+10 (ITRAP+10), a three-year test program to gauge the performance of nine categories of commercially available radiological detection and identification instruments. As part of this effort, nearly one hundred instruments will be tested in Europe and in the U.S. at National Labs. Once completed, the tests will provide federal, state, and local law enforcement valuable information about which radiological detection and identification instruments can best serve their operational needs.

Advancing Nuclear Detection Technologies

  • To mitigate the helium-3 (3He) shortage, which is a necessary component of many detection devices, DNDO developed and tested several commercial alternatives to 3He, and found at least four viable alternatives. DNDO completed development of the new RadSeeker handheld radiation detection system, which will enhance nuclear detection for federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.
  • DNDO implemented the "Commercial First" initiative for the Human Portable Tripwire (HPT) program, which included conducting an Industry Day with 18 vendors, stakeholders, and state and local representatives.
  • DNDO conducted research regarding new scintillator materials that offer significant improvements in performance, decreased cost, and novel characteristics such as dual gamma and neutron sensitivity - eliminating the need for separate detector modules.
  • DNDO sponsored 41 Academic Research Initiative projects for transformational research and development in nuclear and radiological threat detection-related areas, which provided support to 101 students and resulted in 81 peer review papers.
  • DNDO supported small businesses through 174 contracts totaling over $57 million.

Increasing Nuclear Forensics Capabilities

  • DHS partnered with 15 member nations of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) in developing and running the first-of-a-kind tabletop exercise on nuclear forensics to expand international capabilities.
  • DNDO provided technical expertise on international efforts to develop national nuclear forensics libraries to interagency partners and the IAEA throughout 2011. This work has culminated in an IAEA publication which will be provided to the nations participating in the Nuclear Security Summit 2012, presenting the concept of a national nuclear forensics library and providing the basis for nations to move forward in developing libraries which will enable counties in identifying radioactive material out of regulatory control.
  • DNDO facilitated the Round Robin exercise of the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG), in which 30+ countries participate. This exercise involved a simulation of an interdiction by border authorities of highly enriched uranium from two seizures, which were then analyzed and compared using nuclear forensics techniques. Participating nations’ laboratories were able to successfully answer questions regarding the character of the materials and associated production processes.
  • DNDO led the development and coordination of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics (NTNF) Implementation Plan (January 2011), which supports interagency program planning and coordination for nuclear forensics.
  • DNDO expanded its National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program, sponsoring 44 undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral fellowships, scholarships, and internships; 10 junior faculty and university education awards; and an undergraduate summer school with 10 students.
Last Updated: 06/07/2023
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