Dr. Robert Hooks
Director of Transition for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate
Mr. Ervin Kapos
Director of Operations Analysis for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. He acts as the executive director of the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC)
Dr. Brian Jackson
Associate Physical Scientist for the Science and Technology Policy Institute at the RAND Corporation
Mr. Jeff Self
Division Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol
WITNESSES SUPPORT HALL BORDER SECURITY LEGISLATION
Washington, D.C., November 15, 2007 – Today, the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing to evaluate current and future use of technology in securing America’s borders from terrorists, drug traffickers and illegal immigration. Witnesses agreed that there is no single solution to border security and supported H.R. 3916, legislation recently introduced by Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), which supports the development of technologies to assist our patrol agents. At the hearing, Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), one the bill’s sponsors, assured the Committee that H.R. 3916 would be put on the fast track when Members return in January for the next session of Congress.
“I believe that H.R. 3916 will assist the DHS and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in long-term utilization of technology to help us secure our border from threats that face our nation,” said Technology and Innovation Ranking Member Phil Gingrey (R-GA). “As an original cosponsor of H.R. 3916, I am pleased to see that the Science Committee – and specifically the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation – is taking an active role in securing our borders, which I believe is one of the most important issues facing this Congress and our country as a whole.”
The goal of H.R. 3916 is to improve long term planning for research and development at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Science and Technology (DHS S&T), especially in the area of border and maritime security technology. The bill authorizes specific border security technology programs, and instructs DHS S&T to improve processes for setting research priorities and serving the needs of technology end users.
Specifically, HR 3916 focuses on three key long-term technologies that could substantially improve the security of our nation’s borders: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), tunnel detection, and anti-counterfeit technology.
“I believe this Committee is ideally positioned to strengthen control of our nation’s borders through bipartisan legislation supporting effective, efficient, and evolving defenses,” said Ranking Member Hall. “H.R. 3916 begins this effort. The sections in this bill reflect a single underlying theme: the Science and Technology Directorate at DHS needs to establish long-term goals and objectives for border security and broaden science and technology community involvement. The bill highlights three long-term research areas that promise to significantly improve border security across all the threats we currently face.”
One of today’s witnesses, Mr. Jeff Self, Division Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, discussed the need for various approaches to secure America’s borders due to the diverse terrain and populations at different border regions. He said, “There is no stretch of border in the United States that can be considered completely inaccessible or lacking in the potential to provide an entry point for a terrorist or terrorist weapon. Therefore, securing every mile of diverse terrain is an important and complex task that cannot be resolved by a single solution, such as installing fence. Securing each unique mile of the border requires a balance of technology, infrastructure, and personnel that maximizes the government’s return on investment and is tailored to each specific environment.”
Also testifying at today’s hearing were: Dr. Robert Hooks, Director of Transition for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate; Mr. Ervin Kapos, Director of Operations Analysis for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. He also acts as the executive director of the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC); and Dr. Brian Jackson, Associate Physical Scientist for the Science and Technology Policy Institute at the RAND Corporation.
H.R. 3916, Next Generation Border and Maritime Security Technologies