DARPA shifts its focus toward security efforts

DARPA shifts its focus toward security efforts

The Bush administration's use of technology to bolster homeland security has prompted the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to reorganize its offices, combining its IT and homeland security efforts.

DARPA in mid-January created the Information Assurance Office and appointed John Poindexter, a former national security adviser under President Reagan, to lead the office.

DARPA mainly acts as the Defense Department's R&D arm, working with companies and universities through contracts and grants. The typical project lasts four years.

The agency's budget this year is $2.3 billion, and Bush proposed an increase for fiscal 2003 to $2.7 billion, agency spokeswoman Jan Walker said.

Another new office

Information Assurance is the second new office created within DARPA since October. The agency also created an Information Exploitation Office to develop sensor and information systems to improve battle awareness, targeting, and command and control.

DARPA routinely shifts the focus of its offices as technology changes and needs arise, Walker said.

The Information Assurance Office will work on projects that previously were under other offices.

Among these projects is the development of a system for early detection of release of a biological agent. The system would receive and correlate data from government databases, analyze the information and alert the appropriate authorities.

The office also is developing a rapid, two-way, multilingual speech translation interface for use in combat and other field environments, and a biometric system to identify people at a distance to protect against terrorist attacks.

Walker said more information about the office would be released as soon as its Web site goes online.

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