Path to Emergency Response Standards

In pursuit of the President’s goal of national preparedness, it is essential that the Nation has reliable chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) countermeasures equipment that can be used with confidence for the protection of life, health, property, and commerce.  Today, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in collaboration with the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, released the National Strategy for CBRNE Standards, which describes the Federal vision and goals for the coordination, prioritization, establishment, and implementation of CBRNE equipment standards by 2020.

This Strategy—created by the Cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council, which is the principal means within the Executive Branch for coordinating interagency science and technology policies—represents the Federal consensus regarding the development of standards for CBRNE equipment used by Federal, state, local, and tribal responders for CBRNE detection, protection, and decontamination.  The Strategy is the result of a process that included the identification of current research efforts and practices with respect to performance specifications and test methods, as well as standards-development needs of all relevant Federal entities.

The Strategy concludes that achievement of the following goals will be key to ensuring technical performance and interoperability of CBRNE technology, appropriate equipment deployment, and effective user training:

  • Establish an interagency group for CBRNE standards to promote the coordination of such standards among Federal, state, local, and tribal communities
  • Coordinate and facilitate the development and adoption of CBRNE equipment performance standards
  • Coordinate and facilitate the development and adoption of CBRNE equipment interoperability standards
  • Promote enduring CBRNE standard operating procedures
  • Establish voluntary CBRNE training and certification standards and promote policies that foster their adoption
  • Establish a comprehensive CBRNE equipment testing and evaluation (T&E) infrastructure and capability to support conformity assessment standards

The first of these goals was achieved on April 15, 2011, with the establishment of the Subcommittee on CBRNE Standards under the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Homeland and National Security.  The Subcommittee has already begun to create a plan for achieving the Strategy’s remaining goals.

Franca Jones is a Senior Policy Analyst at OSTP

Phil Coyle is Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at OSTP

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