The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced a $40 million funding opportunity for a DHS initiative charged with researching enhanced investigation strategies of transnational criminal organizations (TCO) and other homeland security threats.
The funding will establish a new DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis. The COE’s mission is to identify methods and technology-based solutions to better predict and prosecute criminal activity.
Accredited domestic colleges and universities may apply to receive the 10-year program funding through a cooperative agreement.
DHS is also searching for institutions to partner with the lead college or university of the new COE. Eligible institutions may apply for a $5 million grant to work with the lead institution as an extension of the COE. The grant estimates three colleges or universities will be chosen as partners.
Centers typically work among several colleges and universities to maintain partnerships within academia. In addition to other higher education institutions, COEs maintain partnerships between industries, federally funded research and development centers and other federal state and local agencies.
DHS S&T is searching for multidisciplinary research teams with experience in criminal investigations and network analysis. According to S&T, candidates should be active in fields such as engineering, mathematics and criminology.
The teams granted the funding will work with DHS and other criminal investigators to develop tactics aimed at dismantling TCOs and related homeland security threats. The COE will utilize user-focused research to better identify and prosecute criminal organizations.
The COE program was established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to coordinate a university-based system aimed at enhancing the nation’s security. DHS COEs traditionally work with higher education institutions to conduct research, develop technologies and train the next generation of DHS professionals and technical experts.
There are currently over 10 established COEs including the Center for Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT), led by Northeastern University. This Center conducts research to better characterize and detect explosive-related threats. Since its creation, ALERT has developed counter-explosive technologies including radar systems that identify potential suicide bombers at greatly increased distances.
In 2015, DHS S&T announced the creation of three new COEs: the Center for Borders, Trade and Immigration Research led by the University of Houston; the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
New COEs are created to address homeland security challenges and are funded through the DHS S&T Office of UniversityPrograms. The funding opportunity for the Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis Center was announced June 7. Colleges and universities have until Sept. 10 to submit proposals.