The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is leading the Integrated Product Team (IPT) effort to coordinate department-wide research and development (R&D) and ensure that resources are focused to address DHS mission needs.
Aligning R&D to DHS Missions
The Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) are the primary mechanism for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify, facilitate, and transition research and development (R&D) technological gaps to DHS operational stakeholders. IPTs promote transparency, agility, collaboration, and accountability within the department’s R&D activities. To accomplish this, IPTs align R&D to the DHS core mission areas including:
- Enhance Security
- Prevent Terrorism
- Prevent Terrorism: Chemical Biological / Radiological and Nuclear (CB/RN)
- Secure Borders
- Secure Cyberspace
- Incident Management
In the last two years, IPTs have established a record of repeated success. By incorporating constantly improving data analytics, IPTs are able to coordinate R&D to meet DHS’ frontline operational needs.
As part of the DHS Unity of Effort Initiative, IPTs play a central role in identifying and prioritizing DHS-wide R&D gaps and informing DHS S&T’s R&D portfolio management and investments. The IPT Process brings together resources from across the DHS components, S&T, and DHS headquarters to identify R&D gaps and find viable technological solutions that close those gaps. DHS then reviews and approves these priorities as “High Priority Solution Gaps.” This review process results in a much more robust and efficient DHS-wide R&D.
Integrated Product Teams' Annual Report
At the conclusion of each IPT cycle, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate develops a publication called the Integrated Product Teams for the Department of Homeland Security R&D Report. The reports provides a thorough profile of the processes by which IPTs identify R&D gaps and gain resolutions. The IPT DHS R&D FY17 Report also tracks progress toward the high priority technology solutions collected from operational components. These annual reports capture the process, collaborative efforts, and methodology used across DHS to address R&D gaps and high priority technology solutions collected from operational components.
To complement the IPT annual report, a comprehensive R&D plan framework is being developed to guide the coordination of future R&D across DHS. The R&D framework offers a Department-wide roadmap depicting R&D trends, efficiencies, and areas in need of collaborative resourcing. It also demonstrates how R&D employs data analytics, machine learning, and performance metrics to identify, track progress, and close R&D gaps that result in increased efficiencies and solutions to DHS operations.
IPTs Instrumental in GAO Closing Finding of 2014 DHS Report
GAO-12-837: Published: Sep 12, 2012. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 2012. On August 31, 2017 the following response was posted to http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-837
Recommendation for Executive Action
Recommendation: To help ensure that DHS effectively oversees its R&D investment and efforts and reduces fragmentation, overlap, and the risk of unnecessary duplication, the Secretary of Homeland Security should develop and implement policies and guidance for defining and overseeing R&D at the department. Such policies and guidance could be included as an update to the department's existing acquisition directive and should include the following elements: (1) a well-understood definition of R&D that provides reasonable assurance that reliable accounting and reporting of R&D resources and activities for internal and external use are achieved, (2) a description of the department's process and roles and responsibilities for overseeing and coordinating R&D investments and efforts, and (3) a mechanism to track existing R&D projects and their associated costs across the department.
Agency Affected: Department of Homeland Security
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: DHS has developed policies and guidance for defining and overseeing R&D, as GAO recommended in September 2012. According to DHS officials, the department implemented an R&D portfolio review process as directed by committee reports accompanying the DHS appropriations act for fiscal year 2013 which was aimed at better coordinating R&D activities by reviewing components' individual R&D projects. According to officials from DHS's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), S&T has participated in portfolio reviews with components. In April 2014, DHS issued a memorandum that included a newly developed definition for R&D and also stated that S&T was responsible for coordinating and integrating R&D activities throughout the department. In addition, in August 2015, DHS issued a memorandum that re-established the S&T Integrated Product Teams (IPT). The S&T used IPTs from late 2006 to around July 2011 as S&T's primary mechanism for coordinating R&D. IPTs are tasked to identify DHS technological capability gaps and coordinate R&D to close those gaps across the mission areas of the department. IPTs are intended to help ensure that DHS is investing in non-duplicative technologies. Further, the IPTs are to report to DHS management on DHS's ongoing R&D activities and guide S&T's R&D work to meet the needs of the operational components. In August 2015, S&T reported that it established five IPTs for Aviation Security, Border Security, Cybersecurity, Biological Threat, and Counterterrorism. In March 2016, S&T reported that DHS senior executives consider inputs from the IPTs to provide recommendations for a balanced and prioritized investment strategy for DHS R&D to the Under Secretary for S&T and the Secretary of Homeland Security. In addition, S&T presented a report in April 2016 to the Secretary of Homeland Security that consists of (1) a DHS-wide listing of capability gaps and descriptions, (2) high priority department-wide R&D solutions to address the capability gaps, and, (3) a profile of all R&D work being conducted in DHS. In August 2016, S&T also issued two guidance documents to implement the IPT process and define roles and responsibilities for coordinating R&D in the Department. These documents provide an overview on how DHS is implementing processes and mechanisms to oversee DHS-wide R&D efforts to ensure that R&D is properly coordinated, tracked, accounted for, and to ensure that duplicative projects are not undertaken. Additionally, in January 2017, DHS issued an R&D directive and instructions to formalize R&D reporting and coordination among components. These two documents are to provide the Department with the IPT construct, roles, responsibilities, and processes for coordinating R&D activities across the mission areas of the Department, and intended outcomes. Further, these documents contain the R&D definitions that are to be used by all DHS components. In December 2016, S&T officials reported that they used mechanisms to address DHS-wide R&D projects and costs that resulted in useful information. Specifically, in January 2016, S&T implemented both a R&D portfolio review process and an R&D project tracking system to better manage and track department-wide R&D. S&T's portfolio review process is to provide relevant information to leadership using a project tracking database to collect information on R&D investments. The project data is to collect information related to trend analysis, customer/end user engagement, portfolio health, resource allocation. In August 2017, DHS provided additional information on the mechanisms DHS recently implemented to track all DHS R&D project costs. The information sufficiently demonstrates DHS has established a mechanism that tracks all DHS R&D costs. As a result, DHS will know how much all of its components invest in R&D, making it helpful to oversee R&D efforts across the department.