House committee OKs bill to boost Homeland Security technology

Legislation would double the agency's cybersecurity research and development budget.

The House Homeland Security Committee passed on Thursday a $2.27 billion authorization bill for the Directorate of Science and Technology, the Homeland Security Department's research and development arm, to address gaps in technology.

The Homeland Security Science and Technology Authorization Act (H.R. 4842) and its amendments, which passed by unanimous voice and recorded votes, would double the cybersecurity research and development budget to $75 million for each of the next two years.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., who leads the science and technology subcommittee, sponsored the bill, which requires DHS to study the Defense Department's venture capital programs to build its own model.

The bill mandates that the Science and Technology Directorate work with the National Research Council at the National Academy of Sciences to devise market-driven solutions to cyber threats, such as accounting procedures requiring companies to report information security practices.

In his opening statement, Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., stressed the need to reduce red tape for private enterprises. "I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached by a company with a novel homeland security technology that has been frustrated by how difficult it is to work with S&T," he said.

The legislation creates an Office of Public-Private Partnerships to reach out to the private sector, and evaluate and provide feedback on unsolicited scientific proposals within 60 days of receiving them.

This is the first authorization bill for the Science and Technology Directorate since Homeland Security was created in 2002.