which, in turn, would turn that research into acquisition programs if all expectations were met.
In DHS, however, “though going into acquisition is
an option, there are other avenues we have to look at,”
said Kikla. “Different from the Department of Defense,
DHS develops technologies that impact first responders and the private sector.”
DHS faces a unique challenge because, in addition
to considering use in a government sphere, it needs to
consider private-sector use for the technology it develops. Every six months, Cohen is briefed on technology
intended to transition to use. The Science and Technology directorate also develops innovative technology
that often does not have a customer.
The development of innovative technologies is initiated
by customer requirements but not guided by them, so
risky technologies sometimes are researched by Science
and Technology independent of whether they will be used.
For example, ONR developed the electromagnetic
rail gun without an intended customer, or fitting into
a specific mission set of the Navy. It was developed,
nonetheless, as a technology that, if demonstrated,
could transform naval operations.
A TTA would not be applicable in this instance,
But accounting for less than 10 percent of technology development, innovative technologies will continue
to be pursued regardless of assurance that they will be
transitioned to use.
Funding plays a huge part in what is developed
under DHS Science and Technology. Five-year intervals
are the operational stream for customers requesting
technology to fill an operational gap.
One to three years is the timeframe to realistically
produce the technology. Each year afterward, Kikla
said, frees up approximately 25 percent of initial funds
for other research projects.
About 44 basic research projects are fielded by the
Science and Technology directorate for its customers,
which include 11 federal government agencies — the
DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Director of
Counternarcotics Enforcement, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Domestic Nuclear Detection
Office, Transportation Security Administration, Customs
and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, Citizenship and Immigration Services,
Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Secret
Service and the Coast Guard — and hundreds of state,
local and tribal law enforcement agencies and first
responders. Initially, the directorate hopes to have a TTA
committing the research for each basic research project to
a transition plan for salable use.
There are approximately a dozen innovative projects
also fielded annually by the directorate, according to Kikla.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science
and Technology directorate is asking government customers to sign a Technology Transition Agreement (TTA),
a “good faith agreement” that the technology they
request to be developed will be salable if successfully
produced. Jay M. Cohen, DHS Science and Technology
undersecretary, brought the TTA framework with him
from his previous post as chief of naval research.
Within the 44 basic research projects anticipated to
be set forth annually by TTAs, Science and Technology
expects to have about 250 deliverable “products” or
solutions to its federal customers.
Each year, funding by Congress and actual research
diverge because research is funded based on projections. For example, the directorate’s 2007 research
budget was based on 2009 deliverables.
As TTAs are instituted within the department, research
is done within the confines of available funds. Talking to
the customers, Kikla said, makes requirements more clear
when research is conducted than when it was initiated.
Solidifying the TTA process in the midst of ongoing
research and an established budget only better refines
present research developments, Kikla said, rather than
impeding its progress.
“I’m hoping that we have TTAs not for everyone or
for everything, but only for customers who need technology that we really want,” he said.
Kikla expects “some” TTAs by December. ■