DHS Science and Technology Directorate Overview

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), provides technical and scientific advice, assistance, and solutions to the Department of Homeland Security.

S&T is the science advisor to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and DHS operational components, and is the research and development arm of the homeland security enterprise. S&T offers support in research, development, testing, and evaluation capabilities; and access to a well-established network of worldwide public and private partners for use in providing operational solutions to DHS.

S&T provides evidence-based scientific and technical perspectives to address a range of current and emerging threats—from aviation security to chemical and biological detection to resilience for our critical infrastructure related to climate and natural disasters, cybersecurity, and beyond. S&T works hand-in-hand with other DHS component agencies, emergency management, and public safety personnel, and partners from across the public and private spectrums to develop timely and innovative solutions to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. S&T works in identifying and delivering innovative solutions. Some of these, cultivated by their Technology Centers, may be commercially available or nearly market-ready. In other cases, they collaborate with partners from a broad network of federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, national laboratories, industry innovators, academia, and international agencies to pinpoint capability gaps and then build technologies and publish guidance to address them.

S&T has three critical workstreams of investment that focus on responsibilities to the homeland security enterprise: (1) The Customer Near-Term workstream includes projects/activities that focus on near-term (3-5 years) high-priority gaps or needs identified by DHS operational components and first responder communities, (2) The Foundational Science workstream consists of enduring research that often results in data sets, knowledge products, and publications to support other scientific endeavors, and (3)Future Needs and Emerging Threats workstream exploring emerging science and technology areas and their potential threat and/or application to DHS missions.

With the passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security formally came into being as a stand-alone, cabinet-level department to further coordinate and unify national homeland security efforts. DHS opened its doors on March 1, 2003, and S&T was established within the department at its inception.

S&T supporting first responders

S&T addresses first responder mission challenges such as interoperability. For example, Computer-Aided-Dispatch (CAD) systems that support emergency response agencies are unable to electronically exchange information. This prevents critical data from being shared by the various organizations responding to an incident. S&T is helping achieve a public safety CAD-to-CAD ecosystem that is resilient, efficient, and supports a multi-discipline response to regional, multi-state, and national events.

Top Priorities and Focus Areas

Infrastructure is a broad term encompassing numerous sectors that enable the functioning of our modern society and critical infrastructure resilience is a primary focus of S&T R&D efforts. S&T is engaged in research projects through an interconnected network of partners across government, academia, research institutes, industry, businesses, and other stakeholders to ensure all 16 critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, communications, and transportation systems, are secure and resilient.

Critical infrastructure is typically owned and operated by the private sector, though some is owned by federal, state, or local governments. This explains why S&T is so broadly engaged with diverse partners to develop solutions to help secure these sectors and protect them from natural and human-caused threats. As one example, the Resilient Electric Grid (REG) system installed in Chicago in the fall of 2021 will ensure reliable power by suppressing power surges, while also connecting substations without the risk of a cascading fault current.

Strengthening cybersecurity

S&T improves cybersecurity capabilities through strategic R&D in the areas of mitigation, solution development, and resilience. In line with DHS’s cybersecurity strategy, S&T brings together leading innovators in academia, industry, and government to identify new tools and tactics that can help network owners and operators overcome emerging cyber threats. S&T often teams up with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to mitigate these threats. One example of this partnership is the Secure and Resilient Mobile Network Infrastructure (SRMNI) project, which addresses top CISA priorities of securing critical mobile supply chains and networks.

S&T work in chemical, biological, and explosive threats

S&T’s investments support prevention and protective strategies, as well as the coordinated surveillance and detection of chemical, biological, and explosive (CBE) threats. R&D includes prevention of terrorism, reduction of vulnerability of critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks and other hazards, and the prevention of illicit movement and illegal passage of unauthorized persons and contraband by providing technology capable of detecting CBE threats. S&T’s efforts in the Project Jack Rabbit chemical release trials and computer modeling studies, identifying critical data gaps for toxic inhalation hazard emergency response procedures, are prime examples of this work. Jack Rabbit I in 2010 and Jack Rabbit II in 2015-2016 laid the groundwork for Jack Rabbit III, which is currently underway and set to continue through 2024.

Learn more about S&T

Follow on social media @dhsscitech, visit their website https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology for the latest news and updates.

Looking ahead S&T will be focusing on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to address our most pressing current challenges, prioritizing climate change solutions and critical infrastructure resiliency.

Science and Technology Directorate Websitehttps://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology

Please see the DHS Science and Technology Directorate website for additional information on D&T programs, updates on projects, and other useful information.