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Archived Content

In an effort to keep DHS.gov current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

Harnessing Our Labs

The DHS S&T Office of National Labs (ONL) is an essential player in helping S&T harness resources, move from the planning stage to action and address needs with science and technology solutions when emergent threats, natural disasters and acts of terror occur. ONL connects DHS, Department of Energy (DOE) and other government laboratories and sites and helps identify where high-performing research, developmental testing and science should occur to support the DHS mission. ONL also identifies research programs at the DOE laboratories that may accelerate the delivery of technology solutions and solve immediate problems.

Harnessing a Network of Laboratories Built to Meet Tomorrow’s Homeland Security Challenges

By managing partnerships and aligning work across S&T, DHS components and the DOE laboratories, ONL makes skillful use of its resources to ensure capabilities are employed in the most efficient and effective manner. ONL also addresses multi-disciplinary and crosscutting technology challenges including:

  • Big data and its impact on the DHS mission space
  • Response and recovery from a radiological/nuclear accident or incident
  • Forward-looking studies to enable DHS to better understand the future state of technologies
  • Impact of severe weather events on the electrical grid and other critical infrastructure
  • Cybersecurity and its impact on the Homeland Security Enterprise

DHS Laboratory Complex Facilities

Our five DHS laboratories provide specialized technical expertise and world-class research facilities with diverse capability portfolios to DHS and other partners.

Future DHS Laboratory Complex Facility

DOE National Laboratories Operated as Federally Funded Research and Development Centers

We Identify Efficiencies in Delivering Lab Capabilities That Meet Mission Requirements

We have unique interdisciplinary knowledge of the DOE national laboratory capabilities relevant to the homeland security community and effectively manage use of these capabilities in tandem with our own DHS laboratories to adapt the right technologies to mission requirements and inform investment decisions. Known as “technology foraging,” these efforts help maximize DHS’s return on investment by making effective use of assets and prior investments to minimize costs while accelerating the use of mission-required technologies.

We Enlist Partners and Pool Knowledge, Science and Technology to Solve Problems

With ONL’s management and oversight, America’s laboratories help the homeland security community convert technologies, research and knowledge to operational status through the development of cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs), patents, publications and other means. The DHS laboratories use CRADAs to establish partnerships with industry, academia and others to transfer technology to the commercial sector for wide use in chemical and biological defense, first responder technologies and transportation security.

Coordinating Capabilities to Address Emergent Homeland Security Needs

In response to a terrorist’s attempt to detonate a concealed explosive on a flight near Detroit, Michigan, the federal government needed the means to quickly understand and act upon emergent threats like the “underwear bomb.” S&T, through ONL, established the Aviation Security Enhancement Partnership, an effort that focused on accelerating technology solutions for aviation security using DHS and DOE lab resources. This partnership was a catalyst for homeland security solutions that we see at airports today like Advanced Imaging Technology, Explosives Trace Detection, Advanced Technology X-ray systems, and Bottled Liquid Scanners.

Partnering to Align Laboratories with America’s National and Homeland Security Needs

The Mission Executive Council (MEC) is a mission-aligned model for effective interagency coordination. In July 2010, agency heads from DOE, DHS and the Department of Defense, as well as the Director of National Intelligence established the MEC based on shared recognition that there is a need to maintain capabilities critical to the work of agencies that carry out America’s national and homeland security missions. Its partnering agencies share a long-term interest in preserving a wide range of science, technology and engineering capabilities necessary to meet new and diverse national security threats and challenges. ONL’s Utilization Branch offers direct support to the MEC by providing a senior-level forum where DHS leadership can engage DOE leadership and member organizations while fostering a better understanding of DHS’s long-term needs.

Last Updated: 10/21/2021
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