• InnovationDHS awards $3 million in Small Business Innovation Research awards

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) last week announced a total of $3.1 million in competitive research awards for twenty-nine small businesses located across twelve states and Washington, D.C. Each business was awarded approximately $100,000 in preliminary funding through DHS S&T’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Thirty-one contracts were awarded in ten topic areas.

  • ForensicsDHS announces $40 million funding opportunity for new Criminal Investigations Center of Excellence

    DHS S&T earlier this week announced a $40 million funding opportunity for an institution to lead a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis. This new COE will conduct end user-focused research to enhance investigation strategies of transnational criminal organizations’ (TCO) activities and other homeland security-related crimes.

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  • CounterterrorismCongress restores funds to NYC counterterrorism program

    Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) said on Thursday that Congress is set to approve a Homeland Security budget which would restore $600 million in anti-terror funding. The White House had proposed a budget with cuts to the anti-terror program. The proposed cuts involve reduction of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which would be funded at $330 million for fiscal year 2017, after being funded at $600 million in 2016.

  • Military budgetsRising world military spending in 2015

    World military expenditure totaled almost $1.7 trillion in 2015, an increase of 1 percent in real terms from 2014. The increase reflects continuing growth in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states. The decline in spending in the West is also levelling off. At the same time, spending decreased in Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, the global military expenditure picture is mixed. The United States remained by far the world’s biggest spender in 2015, despite its expenditure falling by 2.4 per cent to $596 billion.

  • SpooksU.K. substantially to increase the number of U.K. spies

    George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, said the government spending review, due out on 25 November, will substantially increase the number of intelligence officers in the three U.K. intelligence agencies who are responsible for investigating, analyzing, and helping thwart terrorist plots. The chancellor said: “The changing nature of war, espionage and terrorism meant government itself had to change in its response.”

  • Earthquake warningWest Coast lawmakers ask Obama for $16.1 million to complete earthquake early warning system

    Last Wednesday thirty-six Members of Congress from western states urged President Barack Obama and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to increase the funding level for earthquake hazards programs in their 2017 budget request — more specifically, to provide $16.1 million dollars in funding for an on-shore Earthquake Early Warning System (EEW) being developed by scientists in Southern California and along the West Coast. The lawmakers say that such an early warning system would be helpful in providing residents and first responders with advance notice that could help save lives, avoid injuries, and avert major infrastructure damage by slowing trains to prevent derailment, stopping elevators, pausing surgeries, and taking other actions in the event of a major earthquake.

  • Synthetic biologyU.S. defense agencies dominate federal synthetic biology research

    A new analysis finds the Defense Department and its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) fund much of the U.S. government’s research in synthetic biology, with less than 1 percent of total federal funding going to risk research. Between 2008 and 2014, the United States invested approximately $820 million dollars in synthetic biology research. In that time period, the Defense Department became a key funder of synthetic biology research. DARPA’s investments, for example, increased from near zero in 2010 to more than $100 million in 2014 — more than three times the amount spent by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

  • BudgetHouse Appropriations Committee approves DHS spending measure

    The House Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2016 spending bill funding homeland security programs. The bill provides DHS with $39.3 billion in discretionary funding, which is $337 million below the amount enacted for FY 2015 and $2 billion less than the president’s request. The committee’s consideration of the measure was dominated by acrimonious debate over sanctuary cities, and House appropriators adopted three Republican-sponsored amendments related to the killing of a San Francisco woman by an immigrant who was in the United States illegally after being deported to Mexico several times.

  • Counterterrorism grantsNew York state, city officials mismanaged millions in anti-terror grants: DHS IG

    A new report from DHS Inspector General found that New York City and the state of New York have mismanaged millions of dollars in federal grants meant to help improve homeland security. DHS IG found that New York officials spent nearly 10 percent – or $67 million of the $725 million granted during three years by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) — on questionable costs not in line with homeland security goals or strategies.

  • DHS bills markupHouse committee to markup eleven Homeland Security bills

    The House Committee on Homeland Security will today markup eleven Homeland Security bills. The committee will consider the legislation passed last week from a Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency markup, a Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications markup, and other homeland security related bills.

  • Rail safetyCrumbling infrastructure to blame for growing number of derailments: Experts

    Transportation industry analysts say the increase in the number of derailments is due to a crumbling transportation infrastructure and a lack of interest in funding rail transportation. Amtrak, a federally subsidized for-profit corporation, has been the target of conservative legislators who want to cut government spending. “The problem that you have — and you’ve had it since 1976 and even before — is that there’s never been an investment program that would bring the infrastructure up where it belongs on existing capacity,” says Amtrak CEO. While derailments are usually due to equipment failures, human and environmental factors can contribute to train accidents.

  • InfrastructureU.S. must invest in energy infrastructure to upgrade outdates systems

    Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is calling for a renewed focus on U.S. energy infrastructure, saying new and improved oil pipeline projects are just a portion of a long list of work needed to modernize the country’s outdated system for transporting oil, natural gas, and electricity.In the government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), an almost 500-page analysis released last week, Moniz calls for building new pipelines, repairing old ones, and insulating electric grids and transformers from storms and terrorist attacks.”It is the right time, maybe it’s a little after the right time, for us to make these kind of investments in energy infrastructure,” he said.

  • Basic researchNew MIT report details benefits of investment in basic research

    By Abby Abazorius

    In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle which sheds light on the origins of the universe; the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet; and Chinese researchers developed the world’s fastest supercomputer. As these competitors increase their investment in basic research, the percentage of the U.S. federal budget devoted to research and development has fallen from around 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015. A new report by MIT researchers examines how funding cutbacks will affect the future of scientific studies in the United States. The report also highlights opportunities in basic research which could help shape and maintain U.S. economic power, and benefit society.

  • Food safetyImplementing new food safety measure hampered by lack of funding

    Roughly forty-eight million Americans have food-borne illness each year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 128,000 of them are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The cost of treatment and lost income is $15 billion a year or more, according to data from the Agriculture Department.When Congress passed the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new powers to prevent food outbreaks, however, it failed adequately to fund the agency, thereby diminishing its ability to implement new regulations and inspection powers on food producers and foreign suppliers.

  • DHS grantsDHS FY2015 preparedness grants total $1.6 billion

    Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson last week announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Notices of Funding Opportunity for nine DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.6 billion. “The grants reflect the Department’s focus on implementation of an all-of-nation, whole-community approach to the building, sustainment, and delivery of those core capabilities essential to achieving a secure and resilient nation,” DHS says.