Department of Homeland Security evaluates techniques to attribute chemical attacks

The Department of Homeland Security recently extended a deadline to review white papers on solutions for the identification of the nature and source of materials used in a chemical attack.

The DHS Science and Technology Directorate originally accepted white papers for the DHS Chemical Forensics Program by January 25. The DHS is planning to extend that deadline through March 22 and will submit questions about proposals through April 15, reports.

The broad agency announcement issued by the DHS requested proposals that would yield some type of tangible value within one year for the attribution of chemical threat agents to specific parameters. The DHS S&T Directorate has approximately $2 million to spend on chemical agent attribution in fiscal year 2013.

The announcement sought to provide the FBI, intelligence agents and law enforcement officials with techniques to analyze chemical agents for attribution, thereby identifying terrorists or criminals using the chemical agents in an attack.

"As part of the effort to deter criminal and terrorist chemical attacks and strengthen the law enforcement response to such an act, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 22, a classified document dealing with domestic chemical defense, was issued," the DHS said, according to "An unclassified portion of this document addresses attribution as a means of identifying the nature and source of materials, the perpetrators and the methods of chemical attacks."

The effort by the DHS S&T Directorate falls under the Chemical and Biological Division, which maintains a Threat Characterization and Attribution Branch.

"(The Threat Characterization and Attribution Branch conducts) threat and risk assessments on both traditional and advance agents, conducts experiments to close major scientific gaps, provides scientific support to the biodefense, chemical defense and intelligence communities, and provides the nation with an operational biological and chemical forensics capability," the DHS said, according to