Washington, D.C. - The Subcommittee on Research and Technology and the Subcommittee on Oversight today held a joint hearing on the technologies needed to better secure our nation’s borders.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Technology is a key component to securing our 2,000 mile Southern border. Customs and Border Protection and National Guard troops cannot be everywhere. Sensors deployed along the border can detect and track the “coyotes” who smuggle children—as well as illegal drugs and firearms—across the border. We need to get this technology in the hands of our immigration officers. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has a poor track record when it comes to developing and fielding sensors and tactical communications infrastructure along the Southwest border.”
In 2002, the Homeland Security Act established the Directorate for Science and Technology (S&T) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The S&T Directorate manages and carries out science and technology research for our federal homeland security needs. It is responsible for developing new technologies that can help secure our nation’s border.
Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “From unmanned aerial vehicles, to tunnel detection, from anti-counterfeit standards to biometrics, there are existing and promising new technologies that can act as force multipliers for border patrol agents and the Coast Guard to augment their day to day work on border security related issues.”
A 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report notes that, “The Department of Homeland Security does not know the total amount its components invest in research and development.” While DHS has since provided a definition for R&D, GAO testified today that it has “not yet determined the most effective path to guide R&D across the department.” Further, a 2013 GAO report cites examples where projects were delayed and cancelled due to an inability to obtain data from DHS.
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.): “The S&T Directorate needs to lay out a clear and comprehensive plan to manage research and development activities, and coordinate with other entities to ensure the deployment of effective state-of-the-art technology in a timely fashion. Absent a strategic technology roadmap, our citizens will remain vulnerable to the threats stemming from an unsecure border.”
The following witnesses testified today:
Dr. K. Jack Riley, Vice President, RAND National Security Research Division; Director, RAND National Defense Research Institute;
Mr. David C. Maurer, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, U.S. Government Accountability Office; and
Dr. Joseph D. Eyerman, Director, Health Security Program, RTI International; Director for Research and Management, Institute for Homeland Security Solutions, Duke University.
The Committee plans to hold a follow-on hearing in September with the Undersecretary of Science and Technology to inform upcoming legislation to reauthorize research and technology development projects at the DHS S&T Directorate.
For more information about the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology website.