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SAFETY Act Reached Major Milestones in 2011


February 1, 2012 by David McWhorter

Like some, I am left wanting after the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s 2nd Annual Address on the State of America’s Homeland Security: “Homeland Security and Economic Security.”

Having been involved with DHS’ Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act) since its inception, my antenna are always alert for mentions of it. Like in late 2008, I am surprised that DHS’ end-of-year remarks did not include a pat on the back for the Department’s remarkable milestones achieved in the past year.

Recall that to incentivize the creation and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by providing liability protection, the SAFETY Act was enacted by Congress as part of the Homeland Security Act in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

As reported on the safetyact.gov web site, 2011 saw the following achievements:

- On November 4, 2011, the 500th application was approved.

- In FY11, there were 101 approvals, more than 40 percent above FY10 and 20 percent above the previous record, reached in FY07.

- The Procurement Pre-Qualification Assistance Initiative was announced, continuing the SAFETY Act Office’s work in integrating the SAFETY Act into Federal Requests for Proposal.

- A new Block Designation (providing applicants with a streamlined application) was announced for participants in the DNDO GRaDERSM Program.

- To provide incentives for increased use and more widespread implementation of anti-terrorism standards, special procedures for Developers of Anti-Terrorism Standards were announced.

Specifically, in 2011, the following technologies were evaluated and now have SAFETY Act coverage, thus allowing for their deployment, or increased deployment, to protect the public:

- GeneXpert® is an Anthrax identification system. (Cepheid, Inc.)

- Conventional X-ray Systems identify incendiary weapons or explosive devices. (Rapiscan Systems, Inc.)

- Blast Mitigating Composite Panels, a line of polymer panels mitigate the damage caused from projectile strikes or explosions. (Sherwin-Williams Company)

- Powered and Non-Powered Air Purifying Respirators provide respiratory protection against known hazardous particulate matter and vapors. (Immediate Response Technologies)

- The Marine Asset Tag Tracking System (MATTS) is used for tracking and monitoring remote mobile assets. (iControl, Inc.)

- WhisprWave® Small Craft Intrusion Barrier™ is a floating security barrier system designed to impede small boats from approaching protected targets. (Wave Dispersion Technologies)

- RBC Shield® Tiles are self-adhesive interlocking tiles used in converting an unprotected space into a shelter-in-place to protect occupants from radiological, biological, and chemical threats. (RBC Shield)

- The MailDefender™ is a device that decontaminates mail through a combination of thermal/radiation energy and steam. The decontamination process reduces the viability of biological pathogens. (BioDefense Corporation)

As you can see, this partial list of accomplishments is quite impressive. My hat is off to the SAFETY Act Office. Hopefully, next year the Secretary will give them a much-deserved nod.

Full disclosure: I was not at DHS Secretary Napolitano’s State of HS speech at the Press Club but have read the transcript. I was at the US Chamber for the “US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council” and “Beyond the Border” sessions. My remarks were prompted by colleagues’ reactions to her speech (found here, here and here, among other places.)

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