In October of last year, I talked about the Integrated Product Team (IPT) initiative that was underway. I noted that IPTs would help DHS better provide for the safety and security of our people and our nation. Today, we are one step closer to that goal with the recent publication of the Integrated Product Teams for Department of Homeland Security R&D Report.
So how did we get here?
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson established Integrated Product Teams in August of 2015 to help the department coordinate its research and development and to ensure it invests wisely in technological advancements. He asked my team to spearhead this effort, with operational components leading individual IPTs in aviation security, biological threat, counterterrorism, border security, and cybersecurity. This is in addition to the work we do with first responders through our First Responder Resource Group, which works to gather needs from first responders in communities nationwide.
This may sound a little like inside baseball, but the concept is simple. We are talking to our frontline operators about the technological capabilities they need to do their jobs better.
Our operational subject matter experts have a voice through IPTs and it allows them to coordinate among components who share missions. With more than 250,000 employees across the department, many of them operational, this coordination allows us to identify efficiencies and similar needs.
For example, during a meeting on biological threat, representatives from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Secret Service identified the requirement for rapid warning, identification, and characterization of biological threats. Although the uses varied, they shared the same requirements, which allowed the components to pursue a joint project.
But our stakeholders are not the only ones who benefit. While you may not see it right away, IPTs could bridge the gap to the airport of the future, reduce border wait times, or increase protection capabilities for the nation’s cyber infrastructure that runs water, power and gas utilities. It could help us strategize on how we protect people and communities from threats—both natural and manmade.
IPTs facilitate an annual dialogue that allows S&T to focus its R&D efforts where they matter the most. I encourage you to read this year’s report, and tell us what you think on Twitter and Facebook!
Dr. Reginald Brothers
Under Secretary for Science and Technology