Homeland Security:

New Department Could Improve Biomedical R&D Coordination but May Disrupt Dual-Purpose Efforts

GAO-02-924T: Published: Jul 9, 2002. Publicly Released: Jul 9, 2002.

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Title III of the proposed Homeland Security Act of 2002 would transfer responsibility for certain chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear research and development programs and activities to the new department. The proposed Department of Homeland Security would develop national policy for, and coordination of, the federal government's civilian research and development efforts to counter chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. Although the new department could improve coordination of existing research and development programs, the proposed transfer of control and priority setting for research from the organizations where the research would be conducted could be disruptive. Transferring control over these programs, including priority setting, to the new department has the potential to disrupt some programs that are critical to basic public health. The President's proposal is not clear on how both the homeland security and the biomedical research objectives would be accomplished. However, if an agency's mission fits with homeland security, its transfer to the new department is appropriate.

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