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DHS: Huge Jump To Support New Biocontainment Lab

by Glenn Hess
April 22, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 16

Credit: Department of Homeland Security
A table shows that funding for Science & Technology Directorate at DHS is set for a big boost.
Credit: Department of Homeland Security

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate, the major source of R&D within the department, would more than double under the Administration’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal. The White House is seeking slightly more than $1.5 billion, a 126.9% jump from the 2012 level.

Most of that increase comes from $714 million in new spending within laboratory facilities for the construction of the proposed National Bio & Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan. The high-security biocontainment laboratory would develop countermeasures for diseases originating in large animals that can be transmitted to humans.

The 575,000-sq-ft livestock research facility would be built on 46 acres next to Kansas State University. It would replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center of New York, which is almost 60 years old.

The Administration’s plan requires the state of Kansas to issue an additional $202 million in state bonds. Kansas agreed when it was awarded the project to contribute 20% of the cost of construction. Thus far, the state has committed $140 million for the project.

The spending plan for DHS also includes $494 million for agencywide R&D activities “to continue progress in enhancing homeland security technology,” according to the budget document. The funding would be used to seek further advances in the detection of explosives and to rapidly identify chemical and biological threats.

In addition, the Administration is calling for a substantial increase in spending on cybersecurity to protect federal computer systems and critical U.S. infrastructure from the growing threat of Internet-based attacks.

“Cyber threats are constantly evolving and require a comprehensive response,” the White House says in its request. “The budget supports the expansion of government-wide efforts to counter the full scope of cyber threats.”

The National Cyber Security Division within the DHS National Protection & Programs Directorate will receive $810 million under the President’s 2014 request. If approved by Congress, that amount would nearly double the division’s 2012 budget of $440.6 million.

The cybersecurity initiative includes $44 million for a new program to develop a comprehensive, coordinated system that fosters information sharing about threats across government agencies and with companies in the private sector.

Overall, DHS would receive $39.0 billion in net discretionary funding under the Administration’s 2014 budget plan, about $625 million less than in 2012. DHS Secretary Janet A. Napolitano says that level of funding is sufficient to preserve “core frontline priorities while making critical investments to grow the economy and secure the homeland.”


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