News & AnalysisNewsmaker Interview: Tara O'Toole

Homeland Security Science Chief Aims to Put House in Order

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Science  13 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6031, pp. 783
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6031.783

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When Tara O'Toole took over as undersecretary of science and technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in November 2009, she knew it was among the least enviable jobs in federal science administration. Congress has repeatedly criticized the department's science and technology directorate for failing to set priorities for itself and failing to provide adequate support and tools for border protection, cargo screening, airport security, and other homeland security missions. University researchers have complained that the directorate has given short shrift to basic research. O'Toole spoke to Science recently about her efforts to boost S&T's role in making the country more secure.