DHS, NASA sign interagency technology pact

The Homeland Security Department and NASA today unveiled a pact to cooperate on research and development projects.

DHS undersecretary for science and technology Charles McQueary and NASA assistant administrator for security and program protection David Saleeba signed a memorandum of understanding describing how the two agencies would share expertise and technologies.

The agreement calls for DHS and NASA to coordinate their evaluation of existing technologies, speed the development of new projects, carry out joint R&D, share resources and staff, and collaborate with other agencies and private companies, DHS said in a statement.

The MOU states that the agencies will frame an Implementing Agreement for each joint project. The agreements will specify the allocation of funds, staff members and facilities, according to DHS.

'When the same technologies that keep us one step ahead of terrorists can also support diverse technical needs of NASA's missions, we better serve the nation by sharing efforts,' McQueary said.

Saleeba said in the same joint statement that, 'The people [who] have placed rovers on Mars, looked into deep space with telescopes and plan human research installations on the moon now will have the opportunity to help protect the country.'

The MOU was not immediately available.

Senior homeland security analyst James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation viewed the cooperative agreement cautiously, saying time would tell if it would be productive. 'All these things sound good when you sign the letters, but what practical [application] comes out of it remains to be seen.

'It is very difficult to align the goals of agencies,' Carafano added. 'On the science level it might be productive, but on the technology level these agreements rarely produce anything of value.'

Carafano noted that NASA and DHS might find useful partnerships in the areas of geospatial technology or miniaturization, 'but it is certainly not going to win the war on terror.'

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