Next-gen BioWatch system falls behind schedule

U.S. attempts to create an aerosolized biological agent threat detection system are running behind schedule.

Alexander Garza, the head of the Homeland Security Department's office of health affairs, acknowledged the situation during a recently held hearing of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on emergency preparedness, according to

"There's going to be slips in the schedule, and there's nothing that I can do - that anybody can do - to prevent those," Garza said, reports.

The DHS is attempting to upgrade to a third generation iteration of its BioWatch sensors that currently collect and test air samples for bioagents throughout the country at undisclosed locations.

The current sensors must have their filters manually collected and sent to a laboratory for analysis. It would take between 13 and 36 hours after the release of a bioagent for the system to be alerted. It is expected to take between four and six hours for the new generation of sensors.

Garza said only one company has developed a product capable of making it through the first phase of procurement testin, and gave no guarantees that it would make it through operational testing.

"It depends if you're looking at the acquisition timeline or if you're looking at 'Hey, this is a new technology,'" Garza said, according to "If you look at the acquisition timeline, it's slipped - absolutely, it's slipped."