By Calvin Biesecker

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its FY ’11 budget request is proposing to shift the Transformation Research and Development (R&D) program that resides within the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) to the Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate in an effort to further consolidate all the department’s R&D activities into one area.

The proposed budget for the S&T Directorate’s Transformational R&D Radiological and Nuclear Division is $109 million, about $500,000 more than Congress appropriated for the program within DNDO in FY ’10. The division identifies, explores, develops and demonstrates scientific and technological ways to address gaps in nuclear detection, response and recovery.

According to DHS budget documents sent to Congress on Monday, the proposed shift of radiological and nuclear R&D will allow S&T "to take advantage of economies of scale and the multi-disciplinary research activities within the S&T Directorate." The documents say the collaborative benefits within S&T are more obvious when considering that "there are many similarities in the technologies used to identify chemical, explosive, and rad/nuc threat materials among other commonalities."

DNDO was established within DHS in 2005 to consolidate all radiological and nuclear policy, detection architecture, research and development, and acquisition activities in one agency to ensure a seamless alignment between mission and goals. In the budget documents, DHS says that S&T’s Capstone Integrated Product Team (IPT) process will ensure that the nuclear detection R&D is closely aligned with DNDO’s needs.

The Capstone IPT process was established in September 2006 by former S&T Chief Jay Cohen to ensure that his agency would be responsive to the technology needs of the various DHS components.

There are four funding buckets within the Transformational R&D as proposed for FY ’11. The largest is the Nuclear Detection Exploratory Research Program, which would be funded at $60.1 million, and explores innovative, high-risk, early-state, ideas that can make major contributions to mitigating nuclear terrorism.

Projects within this effort include materials research, advanced scintillator development, advanced semiconductor development, a near-term Strontium iodide program, passive detection systems, a near-term long-range stand-off detection program, the Helium-3 replacement program, and more.

The Nuclear Detection Advanced Technology (ATD) Program, funded at $17.7 million, is for accelerated development and demonstration of leading-edge technologies. These efforts include the Shielded Nuclear Alarm Resolution ATD and the Intelligent Radiation Sensing System ATD.

The Response and Recovery Program would receive $10 million and funding for the academic community, under the Academic Research Initiative, would be $18.5 million.