11 Nov 10. A preliminary agreement to pull national intelligence spending out of the U.S. Defense Department’s budget could breathe fresh life into a long-dormant recommendation by the Sept. 11 Commission to simplify oversight of intelligence spending, U.S. intelligence experts said. On Nov. 2, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told the audience at the annual Geospatial Intelligence Symposium in New Orleans that he had reached a “conceptual agreement” with Defense Secretary Robert Gates to shift approximately $50bn in annual intelligence spending out of the Defense Department’s budget starting in 2013. The change would leave the approximately $30bn military intelligence program intact within the defense budget. Clapper described the agreement as “one specific way” his office will “accrue more authority,” but defense officials and independent experts said they were skeptical that would be the effect. Clapper is already legally responsible for overseeing the $50bn National Intelligence Program, which covers expenditures by the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency, they said. The change would stop the process of hiding national intelligence spending in the defense budget but would not change the intelligence director’s authority, they added. A top Pentagon official described the practice of sprinkling intelligence spending throughout the Pentagon budget as a relic of Cold War secrecy that needed to end, but he downplayed the bureaucratic impact of ending the practice. A member of his staff called it “an accounting” matter. (Source: Defense News)
05 Nov 10. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a contract to develop a new bio-defense system capable of rapidly determining if a person has been exposed to a biological threat. The award was made under BARDA’s Innovative Platform Technologies program. BioCHAMP-RSP (Confirmation of Harmful Agents by MassTag PCR – Rapid Screening Platform) will provide an innovative system capability to simultaneously identify over 30 pathogens, bacterial and viral, in human samples. Under the one-year $9.6m contract, Northrop Grumman will design, assemble and test two BioCHAMP-RSP prototypes. The system will allow first responders the ability to rapidly provide triage to people who were exposed to biological threats and appropriately allocate medical resources.