Funding Opportunity: DHS Releases Solicitations for Center for Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense
The Office of University Programs (OUP) within the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently released two solicitations for lead and partner institutions to establish a Center of Excellence (COE) called the Center for Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense (CBTS). The COE program is DHS’s flagship research account for universities and its awards are highly competitive. The main solicitation seeks a lead institution, on behalf of a contingent of other university, industry, national laboratory, and non-profit partners, to conduct research and development activities as well as training programs focused on identifying and addressing biological threats to critical infrastructure supply chains and securing borders and ports of entry. In addition, OUP released a separate notice for single project proposals to be considered “partner institutions” to collaborate with the CBTS lead and its identified partners.
DHS COEs are multi-year consortia of research and educational organizations, which work closely with DHS components to research and develop strategies and technologies to address cross-platform priorities for use by relevant DHS directorates. COEs are also expected to educate future security technology experts and train current DHS employees on the newest strategies and technologies. CBTS will focus exclusively on the research and development of “solutions, protocols, and capabilities to enhance the ability of DHS and its partners to detect, assess, and respond to known and unknown biological threats and hazards that could adversely impact the nation’s people, agriculture, and economy.” Specifically, the center will foster the development of the innovative technologies, including but not limited to, enhanced screening capabilities and data analytics; advanced operational procedures at points of entry and throughout critical supply chains; and practices to ensure a workforce that is properly trained in biothreat detection and response.
CBTS will work closely to support the missions of a number of key DHS components that are responsible for identifying and coordinating responses to biothreats across borders, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Office of Health Affairs (OHA), Transportation Security Agency (TSA), National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as non-DHS agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). Center leads will be expected to address each of the overarching themes listed below, which are based on critical research and knowledge gaps identified by DHS components (note that DHS does not expect applicants to address every topic within each theme).
Applicants must demonstrate a strong understanding of existing studies and approaches relevant to each theme to avoid duplication. Complete descriptions and research questions for the themes are provided in the full solicitations, linked below.
- Theme Area 1: Detecting Biological Threats and Disruptions to People and Global Supply Chains
- Theme Area 2: Data Integration and Analytics
- Theme Area 3: Novel Operational Methods to Use Emerging Tools to Reduce Risk
- Theme Area 4: Workforce Development
Research programs supported by this award must have flexibility to adapt to shifting homeland security challenges while maintaining focus on their core areas of emphasis. Given the scope of work required by individual COEs, applicants for lead university must have the capacity to work directly with DHS offices and federal officials to advance the agency’s multi-faceted missions over an extended period of time. Applicants also must demonstrate a strong understanding of the translation of technology and new ideas into practice through licensing, coordination with transition partners, and the federal acquisition process. This requires expertise and buy-in across campus, from researchers within engineering, scientific, and mathematics disciplines to university administration, marketing, technology transfer services, and other institutional components.
Applicants for center lead that have previously led a COE are required to provide additional information on their past performance, including outcomes from projects sponsored by the center, previous engagements with federal officials and other stakeholders, and general lessons learned from the experience.
As previously mentioned, DHS is also soliciting partner universities focused on specific research or workforce development projects to assign to the COE. Principal Investigators that are already partners under a center lead application may not submit the same application for the individual partner solicitation. Applicants for the partner solicitation must focus primarily on one of the key themes listed above. DHS highly encourages partnerships with Hispanic and minority serving institutions.
Due Dates: Proposals for both center leads and partners are due on August 4, 2017, by 11:59 PM EST. DHS will hold a webinar on March 29 at 3:00 PM EST to provide feedback and answer questions about the solicitations.
Total Funding and Award Size: DHS will provide $3.5 million annually for the lead and partners over 10 years. Awards are expected to be made by March 31, 2018. Funding is subject to annual congressional appropriations and the results of biennial performance reviews by DHS. Partner projects selected by DHS to become part of the CBTS portfolio are funded through a cooperative agreement with the lead institution, which is responsible for administering funding to all projects within the COE.
DHS will fund up to three additional partner institutions at up to $500,000 for projects lasting up to two years. DHS may also approach unsuccessful applicants for the center lead competition to serve as partner institutions for the selected COE.
Eligibility and Limitations: Applicants for center leads and partner institutions are limited to public and private universities.
Sources and Additional Information:
- The full solicitation for center lead can be found at https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=292506.
- The full solicitation for center partner can be found at https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=292507.
- The DHS informational webinar can be accessed at https://www.hsuniversityprograms.org/member/login/accessmeeting.cfm?v9D7439306A1066CFD7C83606874E92623A829023=E57B653E7C6E7967420C195C9EB5B27F.
- More information about the COE program can be found at https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/centers-excellence.