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The Importance of the NSF Partnering with the Intelligence, Defense, and Law Enforcement Communities

About this event

Intelligence Technology Innovation Center
Knowledge Discovery and Dissemination

McLean, VA
@ the MITRE Facility
November 2, 2005

“The Importance of the National Science Foundation Partnering with the Intelligence, Defense, and Law Enforcement Communities”

Good Afternoon.  Thank you for inviting me to speak at the Annual Knowledge Discovery and Dissemination Conference.

Back in May of this year, I spoke at a similar meeting, the IEEE Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics. The theme of that conference focused on the need for development of methodologies and tools to enable analysts and researchers to advance the state of knowledge by using computer science and information technology in the areas of terrorism research, intelligence analysis and security-related public policy.

Let me start with a quote . . .
“There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. The investigator is staggered by the findings and conclusions of thousands of workers - conclusions which he cannot find time to grasp, much less remember, as they appear.”

That quote is from Vannevar Bush in 1945 – very applicable today!  The problem is one that requires long-term basic research.

By the way, Bush was instrumental in the creation of the National Science Foundation.

While this quote applies to scientists, it is equally true of intelligence and security communities.

Intelligence and Security are not isolated fields but rather share much in common with the way other organizations operate.

What is NSF’s role in Intelligence and Security? NSF's role is twofold.  NSF provides the basic, unclassified research that will form a foundation for future intelligence acquisition and analysis, for future security systems, and for future public policy regarding intelligence and security efforts.  NSF also provides an educated workforce that can plan, carry out, and oversee future intelligence and security activities.

The U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century produced three reports in 2001. In the third report, entitled, “Road Map for National Security:  Imperative for Change”, the commission stated:

“In this Commission’s view, the inadequacies of our systems of research and education pose a greater threat to U.S. national security over the next quarter century than any potential conventional war that we might imagine. American national leadership must understand these deficiencies as threats to national security. If we do not invest heavily and wisely in rebuilding these two core strengths, America will be incapable of maintaining its global position long into the 21st century.”

The National Science Foundation’s mission is

To promote the progress of science;
to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare;
to secure the national defense
and for other purposes.

Basic science research has always helped secure the national defense but since 9/11, we have been actively trying to do more. 

A National Academies Report “Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism” (Lewis Branscomb and Richard Klausner, Co-Chairs) reflects the commitment of the U.S. scientific, engineering, and health communities to help the U.S. respond to the challenges made evident by September 11.

“The objective of the report …to strengthen the government’s ability to use science and technology for combating terrorism. Critical questions exist about how a comprehensive national counterterrorism effort involving research, development, and deployment can be planned and executed.”

“In the war against terrorism, America’s vast science and technology base provides us with a key advantage.” – President George W. Bush, June 6, 2002

The NAS Report (Chapter 5 -- on IT) specifically states...
“The success of the nation’s R&D enterprise in information technology (as well as in other fields) rests in no small part on the ability of researchers to learn from each other in a relatively free and open intellectual environment.”

That is what your meeting is all about.

The National Academies Report also speaks about threats associated with the IT infrastructure; the report provided short-term and long-term recommendations.  Let me touch on some of the key short-term recommendations:

Short-term recommendations: 

  1. Develop a program to increase the security of emergency-response agencies’ communications systems against attack, based on the use of existing technologies (perhaps slightly enhanced)
  2. Promote the use of best practices in information and network security throughout all relevant public agencies and private organizations
  3. Ensure that a mechanism exists for providing authoritative IT support to federal, state, and local agencies that have immediate responsibilities for responding to a terrorist attack

One of the things we’re doing is GENI (Global Environment for Networking Investigations)...

GENI is an effort being led by NSF/CISE to lay the groundwork for a new global networking infrastructure that is secure, robust, evolvable, and can meet the scientific and other needs of the 21st century.  It responds to the needs already identified by the scientific and other communities.


NSF can partner with intelligence and security communities at the level of individual awards or directed programs.  Many of the proposals that NSF receives have implications for the intelligence and security communities.  We enlist the aid of these communities in the review of these proposals, and encourage technology transfer as appropriate from the resulting awards.  In some areas, such as KDD, the topic of this conference, NSF recognizes the need for enhanced research and education across an area of science and engineering.  NSF program staff works together with staff from the intelligence and security communities to attract and review relevant proposals, and manage the resulting awards. In many instances, the intelligence and security communities provide additional funding for NSF projects.

Conclusion: “What does this mean?”

  • This is a time of great challenges and opportunities to work together
  • An opportunity to make significant contributions to science and to the national defense in partnership.
THANK YOU… Any questions