Forging tech alliances

Forging tech alliances

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. pushed legislation through the House last week to create an office within the Department of Homeland Security to seek out collaborative defense projects with allied nations, including Israel.

As the ranking member on the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science and Technology, Pascrell (D-8th didtrict) was acquainted with the projects emanating from the Israel-U.S. Bi-National Industrial Research and Development Foundation. Through the BIRD Foundation and its affiliates, U.S. and Israeli companies partner to develop new technologies. Pascrell would like to see this model duplicated under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.

House Resolution 494′, the "Promoting Antiterrorism Capabilities Through International Cooperation Act," would create the Science and Technology Homeland Security International Cooperative Programs Office. The new office would authorize activities to share technologies among U.S. agencies, academic centers, companies, and their counterparts in allied nations and provide the funds needed to develop new homeland security technologies, something he said it has not done in the years following Sept. 11.

The legislation authorizes the expenditure of $’5 million between ‘007 and ‘010 for development projects and specifies that Homeland Security should partner with U.S. allies in the war on terrorism, including Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. Pascrell expects a conference of the House and Senate to discuss the bill in November.

"The Israelis have a nuclear detection system second to none. There are many areas we can coordinate," Pascrell told The Jewish Standard last week. "We do not have this within legislation. We’re increasing the urgency of working together on [defense-related research and development]."

America’s allies, and Israel in particular, Pascrell said, have a lot of expertise to share with the United States that would be very beneficial to the country’s defense.

"Israel is far ahead of us in certain areas, particularly nuclear prevention, first responders, and chemical protections," Pascrell said. "We can learn a lot."

The BIRD Foundation is represented in New Jersey by the NJ-Israel Commission, headed by Andrea Yonah.

"The BIRD model is not only a great one, but a successful one," Yonah said from her Trenton office.

"What’s successful is they never touch the original endowment," she said. "The projects are funded on interest [from] that endowment and repayments."

Pascrell pointed out that Homeland Security is still fighting for money to overhaul security on America’s transit systems.

"So many people use our transit systems during the day," he said. But while we provide a good deal of money for airline security, we devote "very little to our transit system." This is one area where collaboration on new technology could be of great value, he noted.

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