On July 14, I joined other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leaders to testify before Congress about how we can strengthen our departmental Unity of Effort with regards to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) threats to our nation. S&T has worked closely with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to align the CBRNE mission with their vision of a streamlined Department.
Before I tell you how this pertains to S&T, I want to share some background information. The Senate exploratory statement accompanying the FY2013 DHS Appropriations Act directed DHS to review its Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) programs and functions, which prompted former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to call for a review team to conduct an impartial collaborative assessment of potential alignment options.
The review team, led by the DHS Office of Policy, concluded that the existing organizational structure in the department was insufficient to achieve future goals in the CBRN area. These results were presented to Secretary Napolitano in August 2013, but changes were not implemented because of her limited remaining time as secretary.
In April 2014, Secretary Johnson guided the “Strengthening Departmental Unity of Effort Initiative” to improve the planning, programming, budgeting, and execution processes through strengthened departmental structures, increased capability, and smart DHS headquarters realignment. The Secretary’s Unity of Effort initiative moved the department to reexamine the recommendations from the 2013 CBRN review.
Signed by Deputy Secretary Mayorkas on June 17, the DHS Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Functions Review Report, if agreed to by Congress, would recommend a new structure for the CBRNE Office, one S&T would contribute to by transferring its chemical, biological and integrated risk assessment and material threat functions. This will allow appropriate consolidation between risk assessment and material threat functions, along with more cohesion between these functions. While the chemical and biological R&D functions within S&T will not transfer to the CBRNE Office, nor will the facilities where this work is conducted, S&T and the CBRNE Office will remain the nexus for the department as it relates to CBRNE. This will call for robust and consistent coordination between S&T and the CBRNE Office – not just for progress – but to ensure accountability and transparency of R&D efforts to achieve operational results, a key tenet of departmental Unity of Effort.
This proposed CBRNE reorganization will foster Unity of Effort across the department by integrating and strengthening DHS CBRNE coordination, roles, and responsibilities for improving outcomes and accomplishing goals.
Watch full testimony online by clicking here.
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology