My job is to ensure technological solutions are identified, developed, and applied effectively to keep the homeland safe. From facing emerging threats to protecting our people, technological innovation is a must on the front lines. Secretary Johnson and I agree on this one hundred percent, and we believe that the best way to find effective technological solutions is through integrated product teams (IPTs) that unify research and development (R&D) efforts across the department.
I am thrilled to report that this is already underway. Established in August of this year with the Science and Technology Directorate as the lead, IPTs have begun to convene mission-focused teams of component operators and DHS technical experts. For border security, who have signed the first IPT charter, this puts U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement together with specialized project managers to find border security solutions, common procurement efforts, and joint priorities.
To start, the IPTs will focus on aviation security, biological threat, counterterrorism, border security, and cybersecurity. We will also continue our important work to support first responders through the First Responder Resource Group. As you can see, our areas of focus reflect the missions of components across DHS, and they speak to S&T’s dedication to the Secretary’s Unity of Effort initiative. What’s more, they also align with the mission and vision that S&T has set out in its visionary goals and strategic plan.
The key role of IPTs is to determine where DHS technology needs are greatest— or to identify what we call technological capability gaps. This will ensure that Secretary Johnson and I can make sound R&D investments based on a plan that comes directly from our front line, and is informed by technical experts.
By coming together, the IPTs can identify all DHS R&D efforts, identify shared and unique capability gaps, and prioritize them. As part of the IPTs, sub-IPTs will be created to address key issues such as resilience. We also expect IPTs to leverage the broader R&D ecosystem by tapping into industry, laboratories and academia to find existing or emerging technologies that can meet identified needs. Additionally, S&T will play a reviewing role as part of the IPT process. This is specific to a proposed acquisition process that ensures technologies are viable before we put them in the hands of our operators.
Annually, the IPTs will provide prioritized technological capability gaps and a corresponding list of prioritized R&D investments. When the final list of prioritized R&D reaches my desk for review, it will represent much more than a list. To me, IPTs encompass everything we work for at S&T— to elevate important projects, identify viable technologies, unify DHS’ R&D efforts, and help ensure better opportunities for commercialization.
When we harness all of this for the Secretary’s approval, I know we will succeed. I look forward to using IPTs to better provide for the safety and security of our people and our nation. Nothing could be more important to me.