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Holly A. Dockery Addresses Homeland Security Issues at ANSI Caucus

Standards will be vital part of the creation of the new Department

New York, Oct 07, 2002

At a meeting of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Caucus held on October 4, 2002, Dr. Holly A. Dockery, Technical Advisor from the Transition Planning Office of the White House Office of Homeland Security, gave an informative briefing on focus areas and technology issues the Office is facing. Dr. Dockery also touched on what challenges she sees for the proposed Department of Homeland Security, currently being debated in Congress.

The four operating groups of the proposed Department of Homeland Security are focused on 1) Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, 2) Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures, 3) Border and Transportation Security, and 4) Emergency Preparedness and Response. Within these areas, the new office is looking at ways of detecting, preventing, and mitigating potential attacks, and also analyzing recovery efforts and forensic work should such attacks occur.

The Transition Planning Office is involved in laying the groundwork to have a fully operating Department of Homeland Security ready to get underway as soon as Congress passes legislation creating the department and a new Secretary is nominated and approved. According to Dockery, the office is cognizant of the impact that standards will have, and the pending legislation allows for the new Department to turn to private sector standards to aid in security efforts. Voluntary standards serve U.S. interests well because government, consumers, and industry work together to create them. Dockery acknowledged that since many existing standards were not developed with the understanding we now have of terrorism, some of these standards may need to be modified to meet emerging Homeland Security needs. Dr. Dockery also stated that the Office of Homeland Security is aware of the need for conformity assessment and certification regimens to make sure products, service and programs actually meet the standards that are of concern to the government.

The Office of Homeland Security is attempting to identify where new standards may need to be developed and prepare a roadmap of what work needs to be done. For example, in the areas of bioassay (the determination of the kinds, quantities or concentrations and, in some cases, the locations, of radioactive material in the human body), radiation detection and other areas, she noted that there is the need for new standards. David Karmol, ANSI's director of public policy and government affairs, also made the offer to Dr. Dockery that ANSI could be of assistance in soliciting support from the standards community in developing new standards or in modifying existing standards to meet new needs.

Biometrics is one area that is responding quickly to the need for high-security standards. The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) today announced that INCITS Technical Committee M1-Biometrics has approved two additional biometric data interchange project proposals with important implications for Homeland Security. One is for the development of an iris recognition image interchange standard, and the other for a finger image-base interchange format standard. It is estimated that the draft document for the iris recognition standard will be ready for public review by January 2003 and the finger image draft will be ready by July 2003-both very short timelines for projects of this scope. (See related ANSI news story on the recent Biometrics Consortium Conference.)

During dialogue with the group, ANSI member representatives from Society of Automotive Engineers and Electronics Industry Alliance pointed out that their respective industries also have fast-track development processes to expedite standards critical to national safety.

ANSI Caucus luncheons are held on the first Friday of each month and are free to ANSI members; Friday's event was hosted by the National Fire Protection Association, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer. ANSI thanks the NFPA, and their representative, John Biechman. An ANSI member provides sponsorship of each luncheon; there are currently sponsorship opportunities for the Caucus luncheons beginning in January 2003. For attendance or sponsorship information for a future ANSI Caucus lunch, contact David Karmol at or 202-293-3610.

ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel