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Systems Engineering and Standards

The Science and Technology Directorate's (S&T) Systems Engineering and Standards offers a technical framework to enable sound decision making relative to trade studies, system performance, risk, cost and schedule, and also works with first responders and law enforcement communities to answer the basic question, “What equipment will do the job?”

A deliberate process to determine the right system and technology systems engineering is an interdisciplinary, methodical approach for designing and developing a system that meets stakeholder needs and remains affordable and sustainable over its entire life. Proper application of systems engineering principles and processes, tailored to the complexity and nature of a particular program, increases the likelihood of successfully delivering capability at the best cost.

Systems Engineering looks at the entire life of a new or enhanced capability, beginning early and throughout development, production, distribution, operation and maintenance, all the way to retirement and disposal. By guiding the engineering of complex or integrated technical solutions, Systems Engineering helps DHS program managers assess the complexity, risks, and operational and technical areas of potential solutions to decide on a best course of action for their program. It provides the technical foundation for DHS acquisition programs and works in concert with DHS program managers to effectively manage and integrate the technical effort of a program to ensure the right solution is delivered.

Systems Engineering delivers a range of capabilities to help DHS program managers, including expertise and enablers in human systems integration, architecture, and systems engineering and transition.

DHS S&T Standards (STN), part of the Office of Science and Engineering (OSE), Systems Engineering and Standards Division (SES), works closely with DHS Components, homeland security partners, and other end users, especially first responders, to identify relevant standards and test methods to address mission needs. Wherever those standards and test methods do not exist, STN facilitates development through standards-setting organizations to ensure reliable, interoperable, and effective processes and technologies. To facilitate communication with this diverse community of users, STN maintains the DHS Standards Council with representatives from DHS Components, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Council, led by the Standards Executive, supports many technical homeland security standards subject area working groups within DHS to gather, analyze and maintain current information about standards and conformity assessment activities.

S&T STN improves the technology development and acquisition process to accelerate the delivery of technologies, ensure performance requirements are satisfied and reduce development risk. STN addresses topics including biometrics, response robots and unmanned aircraft systems, trace contraband detection, and wastewater surveillance. 

S&T STN works with a variety of standard-setting organizations, including the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), ASTM International, IEEE and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Through participation in these and other voluntary consensus standards development bodies, STN ensures the availability and appropriateness of standards for homeland security mission needs. 

Learn more about S&T Standards (STN):

The following links provide information on standards in general:

Last Updated: 05/11/2022
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