DHS to encourage development of liquid explosives detection technology

Published 22 September 2006

New DHS technology chief says developing technologies to detect liquid explosives is the department’s priority, and that companies offering devices that do that will be accelerated through the process of granting their products liability protection

Here are three attractive options for a business person: The government could subsidize your R&D efforts; it could guarantee to buy a product your company is working on when it is produced; or it could encourage you to produce and market something and pass laws which would shield you from liability if something goes wrong with the product. In the homeland security field we have examples of all three options, and the latest one has just been offered to companies willing to explore developing technologies to detect liquid explosives.

Jay Cohen, the new head of DHS science and technology directorate, told legislators the other day that the department was accelerating efforts to find technology to prevent liquid explosives from being brought on planes, and that DHS was contemplating offering companies special liability protections for their devices. Cohen said he initiated a program on 11 August, the day after the foiled London plot was disclosed, asking industry for proposals for detection devices. He said that more than forty proposals came in. Within the next month the department will test the devices using 500 milliliter-sized bottles filled with liquid explosives that the government knows terrorists are likely to use. Cohen said that the device would also qualify for certification under the department’s Safety Act program, which shields contractors from liability and lawsuits in the event that their technology does not prevent a terrorist attack.

-read more in Chris Strohm’s Govexec.com report []