Wednesday, April 28, 2021

DOD Science and Technology Executive Committee Announces Winner of FY21 Applied Research for Advancement of S&T Priorities Program Award

April 28, 2021

The Department of Defense (DoD) Science and Technology Executive Committee (S&T ExCom), coordinated by the Office of the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), is proud to announce the winner of the 2021 Applied Research for Advancement of S&T Priorities (ARAP) Program Award Competition.  

“After careful deliberation by the S&T ExCom, I am delighted to announce that we have selected ‘Surface Morphing and Adaptive Structures for Hypersonics (SMASH)’ for this year’s ARAP Award,” said Dr. JihFen Lei, Principal Deputy and Acting Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology, and S&T ExCom Chair. “We look forward to following the progress and accomplishments of the SMASH effort leading into successful technology transition.”

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST) submitted the winning SMASH proposal.  The SMASH applied research program will advance and improve hypersonic systems’ performance, lethality, and durability by implementing adaptive geometry and smooth, flexible surfaces to enable superior lift, maneuverability, and efficiency over conventional “rigid” boost-glide missiles, air-breathing cruise systems, and interceptors.  

NRL will lead a DoD research team that includes the Air Force Research Laboratory, Army Research Laboratory, and the Missile Defense Agency, as well as 20 academic partners that are integrated with these labs.  This three-year, $45M program will support approximately 80 Federal scientists and engineers across these agencies as they seek to develop the necessary materials, systems, and tools to increase hypersonic range, platform capacity, lethality, and maneuverability.  Additionally, the program will support at least 20 new graduate students who participate through the agencies’ academic partners.  The program will leverage the combined expertise and assets of the entire DoD research enterprise to establish and maintain a technological edge for the Warfighter in both the offensive and defensive use of hypersonic weapon systems.  

In total, the S&T ExCom received 17 submissions for this year’s award competition and selected three teams as finalists.  Each finalist team briefed the ExCom on their proposal. “We appreciate the initiative, originality and collaborative effort that each team displayed in developing a high quality proposal, especially during the pandemic,” said Dr. Lei. 

To participate in the yearly ARAP Award Competition, DoD programs or offices submit proposals for research areas that meet specific criteria.  Some of the criteria that proposed research areas must meet include being eligible for applied research (BA-2) funding; addressing a specific technology or capability gap; enhancing collaboration across DoD and the Services; presenting a realistic program management plan; and demonstrating a clear pathway from research to product fielding.


Monday, April 26, 2021

New Solicitation: Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, Fiscal Year 2021


NIJ plans to seek proposals from qualified applicants to establish and operate a Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCOE) to support NIJ’s research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) process and technology transition activities in all areas of forensic science.

The FTCOE should focus on specific efforts to include, but not limited to:

  1. Providing scientific and technical support to NIJ’s forensic science research, development, and technology transition efforts.
  2. Facilitating demonstration, testing, evaluation, transfer, and adoption of appropriate technology into practice by crime laboratories, medical examiner/coroner offices, law enforcement, and other criminal justice agencies and forensic science service providers.
  3. Providing technology transition assistance, knowledge transfer, and support to forensic science researchers and practitioners.
  4. Developing and providing access to resources for research dissemination, education, and evidence-based best practices in the forensic science and criminal justice communities.
  5. Working closely with NIJ program managers to assess and communicate the impact of forensic science RDT&E, evidence-based best practices, and systems-based approaches for the criminal justice system.
  6. Develop national forensic science library services to identify, curate, and make available scholarly literature relevant to the forensic science research and practitioner community.

In FY 2021, applications will be submitted in a new two-step process, each with its own deadline:

  1. Submit an SF-424 and an SF-LLL in
    Step 1,, Deadline: June 3, 2021, by 11:59 PM ET
  2. Submit the full application including attachments in JustGrants.
    Step 2, Application JustGrants, Deadline: June 10, by 11:59 PM ET


Applicants must register with and register with JustGrants prior to submitting an application.

This solicitation is competitive; therefore, NIJ staff cannot have individual conversations with prospective applicants. Any questions concerning the solicitation should be submitted to the OJP Response Center: 1-800-851-3420; TTY at 301-240-6310 (for hearing impaired only); or email See also's solicitation FAQ page.

The following application elements MUST be included in the application submission for an application to meet the basic minimum requirements to advance to peer review and receive consideration for funding: Proposal Narrative, Budget Worksheet and Budget Narrative (Web-based form), Curriculum Vitae/Resumes for Key Personnel. (For purposes of this solicitation, “key personnel” means the principal investigator, and any and all co-principal investigators.)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Tennessee-Based Veteran-Owned Start-Up to Develop New COVID-19 Screening Method

WASHINGTON – As people begin to return to the workplace and in-person operations prepare to resume, facility managers are challenged to employ point-of-entry screening methods that are robust, non-invasive, non-disruptive, and preserve privacy. To address this challenge, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded $199,653 in Phase 1 funding to Farmspace Systems, LLC, a veteran-owned start-up based in Alamo, Tenn., to enhance its COVID Finder technology, a non-thermal detection COVID-19 screening method.

“We know that using thermal detection, or temperature checks, is a stop gap solution. There isn’t a way to effectively detect the virus in individuals in large volume,” said Melissa Oh, managing director of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). “Exploring this technology will bolster DHS efforts to safely bring back our valued workforce.” SVIP awarded the funds under the Emerging Needs: COVID-19 Response & Future Mitigation solicitation.

The Farmspace COVID Finder team was formed in May 2020 for the purpose of developing a fast, accurate, and non-invasive COVID-19 screening for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic viral carriers. Farmspace’s proposed solution entails a COVID Finder Point-of-Passage portal designed to capture and identify real-time images of viruses in exhaled breath using artificial intelligence and disinfect the booth between occupants with ultraviolet light. Phase 1 of this project will establish a framework for using images from breath to diagnose a plethora of infectious, inflammatory, and malignant diseases.

“Based on early analysis, the emerging ‘solution of choice’ for workplace screening was febrile (fever) scanning.  However, better alternatives were always known to be necessary,” said Kevin Grottle, DHS S&T program manager. “This SVIP topic was structured to determine if there were any pre-market technologies that match the ‘ease’ of fever scanning while overcoming its limitations. The Farmspace approach may provide both.”

The potential long-term value of COVID Finder is its ability to adapt screening rapidly to meet the current pandemic screening challenges, as well as possible viral outbreaks in the future.

About SVIP

SVIP is one of S&T’s programs and tools to fund innovation and work with private sector partners to advance homeland security solutions. Companies participating in SVIP are eligible for up to $800,000 of non-dilutive funding over four phases to develop and adapt commercial technologies for homeland security use cases.

For more information on current and future SVIP solicitations, visit or contact

About S&T

To learn more about S&T response efforts to COVID-19 across the Directorate, please visit S&T Support to the COVID-19 Response.

For more information about S&T’s innovation programs and tools, visit

DOD Announces Winners of the 2021 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards

 April 22, 2021

The Department of Defense announced the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards winners for 2021 today.  The awards recognize installations, teams, and individuals for their accomplishments in innovative and cost-effective environmental management strategies that support mission readiness.  

“Three priorities – defending the Nation, taking care of our people, and succeeding through teamwork – will guide our efforts,” said Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense.  On tackling the climate crisis, he stated, “we will elevate climate as a national security priority, integrating climate considerations into the Department’s policies, strategies, and partner engagements.”

Each year since 1962, the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards have honored service members and civilians across DOD.  The nominees’ achievements include significant strides to conserve our Nation’s natural and cultural resources; protect human health; prevent or eliminate pollution at the source; clean up hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants, and munitions on DOD sites; and incorporate environmental requirements into weapon system acquisition.  DOD also leverages technology to develop innovative solutions to existing and emerging human health and environmental challenges. 

A diverse panel of 47 judges from Federal and state agencies, academia, and the private sector evaluated nominations from the DOD Components to help determine the winners.

In 2021, DOD selected the following 8 winners from a total of 27 nominees:

  • Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation:  Eglin Air Force Base, Florida—Developed a four-pronged approach to gopher tortoise conservation.  Through a Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Memorandum of Agreement with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Eglin became the primary recipient site for gopher tortoise populations that alternative energy production had displaced across Florida.  During FY 2019-2020, conservationists moved more than 2,300 gopher tortoises to the installation, and Eglin is on track to reach its goal of receiving 6,000 tortoises by 2023.
  • Environmental Quality, Industrial Installation:  Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California—Partnered with the Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office to remove vegetation obstructions in the runway clear zone.  By re-scoping the project and conducting a new, streamlined National Environmental Policy Act Environmental Assessment, the installation lowered the project price from $20 million to $7.8 million.
  • Environmental Quality, Overseas Installation:  Yokota Air Base, Japan—Employed an environmental inspection process that reduced the need for one-time shop ramp ups for inspections.  The team performed more frequent inspections spread throughout the year, which resulted in a smoother, more balanced workload.  In FY 2020, Yokota Air Base conducted 174 environmental inspections and identified or corrected 17 out of 19 significant discrepancies, which increased environmental compliance by 90 percent. 
  • Sustainability, Non-Industrial Installation:  U.S. Army Garrison Fort Polk, Louisiana—Used advanced technologies to reduce energy and water use; increase the installation’s resilience through renewable onsite resources; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, facilities, and construction.  Focusing on energy resilience and efficiency, Fort Polk invested $13 million in funding for advanced technology projects during FY 2019-2020 to expand upon micro grids, energy storage, electric vehicles, building control integration, and infrastructure improvements.
  • Sustainability, Individual/Team:  Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support, Pennsylvania—Created a new fast-track ordering process using the Weapon Systems Support Hazardous Material Management Tool to automatically approve the purchase of sustainable products from the Navy-wide Green Authorized Use List.  The team published standard operating procedures and technical guidance for the new order system. 
  • Environmental Restoration, Installation:  Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina—Completed 2 years of intensive Installation Strategic Acquisition Planning, resulting in the early award of a multi-year $16.3 million Optimized Remediation Contract in August 2020.  The three restoration projects achieved a record 10 site closeouts, 2 Response Complete milestones, and 11 optimized remedies.   
  • Cultural Resources Management, Small Installation:  Naval Base Point Loma, California—Rehabilitated the Post Exchange and Gymnasium (Building 158), a premier historic structure on the base.  Contractors, historic buildings architects, design managers, and construction managers worked closely with Cultural Resources Management program staff to retain the building’s historic character and features while providing a modern workspace for the new occupant, Naval Base Point Loma’s Security Department.
  • Cultural Resources Management, Individual/Team:  Thomas E. Penders, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida—Led six archaeological surveys, saving the 45th Space Wing an estimated $480,000.  The surveys paved the way for the use of lands for the development of critical defense and launch programs identified in the 45th Space Wing General Plan while complying with the National Historic Preservation Act and Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

For more information on the 2021 winners, click here.  Additional Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards program information, including past winners, can be found here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Justice Department Announces Court-Authorized Effort to Disrupt Exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Server Vulnerabilities

 Action Copied and Removed Web Shells that Provided Backdoor Access to Servers, but Additional Steps may be Required to Patch Exchange Server Software and to Expel Hackers from the Victims’ Networks.

Note: A full copy of the unsealed court documents can be viewed here.

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a court-authorized operation to copy and remove malicious web shells from hundreds of vulnerable computers in the United States running on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange Server software used to provide enterprise-level e-mail service.

Through January and February 2021, certain hacking groups exploited zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server software to access e-mail accounts and place web shells (which are pieces of code or scripts that enable remote administration) for continued access. Other hacking groups followed suit starting in early March after the vulnerability and patch were publicized. Although many infected system owners successfully removed the web shells from thousands of computers, others appeared unable to do so, and hundreds of such web shells persisted unmitigated. Today’s operation removed one early hacking group’s remaining web shells, which could have been used to maintain and escalate persistent, unauthorized access to U.S. networks. The FBI conducted the removal by issuing a command through the web shell to the server, which was designed to cause the server to delete only the web shell (identified by its unique file path). This is unrelated to Microsoft’s 13 April announcement.

“Today’s court-authorized removal of the malicious web shells demonstrates the Department’s commitment to disrupt hacking activity using all of our legal tools, not just prosecutions,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Combined with the private sector’s and other government agencies’ efforts to date, including the release of detection tools and patches, we are together showing the strength that public-private partnership brings to our country’s cybersecurity. There’s no doubt that more work remains to be done, but let there also be no doubt that the Department is committed to playing its integral and necessary role in such efforts.”

“Combatting cyber threats requires partnerships with private sector and government colleagues,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery of the Southern District of Texas. “This court-authorized operation to copy and remove malicious web shells from hundreds of vulnerable computers shows our commitment to use any viable resource to fight cyber criminals. We will continue to do so in coordination with our partners and with the court to combat the threat until it is alleviated, and we can further protect our citizens from these malicious cyber breaches.”

“This operation is an example of the FBI’s commitment to combatting cyber threats through our enduring federal and private sector partnerships,” said Acting Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz of the FBI’s Cyber Division. “Our successful action should serve as a reminder to malicious cyber actors that we will impose risk and consequences for cyber intrusions that threaten the national security and public safety of the American people and our international partners. The FBI will continue to use all tools available to us as the lead domestic law enforcement and intelligence agency to hold malicious cyber actors accountable for their actions.”

On March 2, 2021, Microsoft announced that a hacking group used multiple zero-day vulnerabilities to target computers running Microsoft Exchange Server software. Various other hacking groups also have used these vulnerabilities to install web shells on thousands of victim computers, including those located the United States. Because the web shells the FBI removed today each had a unique file path and name, they may have been more challenging for individual server owners to detect and eliminate than other web shells.

Throughout March 2021, Microsoft and other industry partners released detection tools, patches, and other information to assist victim entities in identifying and mitigating this cyber incident. Additionally, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a Joint Advisory on Compromise of Microsoft Exchange Server on March 10, 2021. Despite these efforts, by the end of March, hundreds of web shells remained on certain U.S.-based computers running Microsoft Exchange Server software.

Although today’s operation was successful in copying and removing those web shells, it did not patch any Microsoft Exchange Server zero-day vulnerabilities or search for or remove any additional malware or hacking tools that hacking groups may have placed on victim networks by exploiting the web shells. The Department strongly encourages network defenders to review Microsoft’s remediation guidance and the March 10, 2021 Joint Advisory for further guidance on detection and patching.

The FBI is attempting to provide notice of the court-authorized operation to all owners or operators of the computers from which it removed the hacking group’s web shells. For those victims with publicly available contact information, the FBI will send an e-mail message from an official FBI e-mail account ( notifying the victim of the search. For those victims whose contact information is not publicly available, the FBI will send an e-mail message from the same FBI e-mail account to providers (such as a victim’s ISP) who are believed to have that contact information and ask them to provide notice to the victim.

If you believe you have a compromised computer running Microsoft Exchange Server, please contact your local FBI Field Office for assistance. The FBI continues to conduct a thorough and methodical investigation into this cyber incident.

Are CRADAs the Right Vehicle for Your Successful Partnership with DHS?

 S&T’s Office of Industry Partnerships (OIP) is here to help you navigate DHS resources and learn how to work with S&T to get your innovative solutions into the hands of DHS end users and to the commercial market.

Join us on May 4, 2021, from 2-3 p.m. ET for the next Insights Outreach webinar: Partnering with DHS Using CRADAs.


Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) are Technology Transfer and Commercialization Program tools that facilitate research and development collaboration between federal laboratories and the private sector and provide an easy way to collaborate with DHS programs, laboratories, and components. During this live webinar, you will hear from DHS S&T’s CRADA partners and program managers about the CRADA process, who may participate in the collaborations, and successful projects.

Learn more about how to discover opportunities to adapt, develop, and commercialize your technologies in support of DHS missions at the Insights Outreach series webinars on the first Tuesday of each month.

DHS Science & Technology, Office of Industry Partnerships

Monday, April 12, 2021

Launch of 2021 "Virtual School" Cybersecurity Campaign

 Are you aware of cybersecurity risks online?

With students across the country spending more time online now more than ever, it is essential to be aware of the threats and hazards that online learning environments present. The School Safety program is launching the 2021 "Virtual School" Cybersecurity Campaign to raise awareness of the various cyber threats and hazards the K-12 school community faces.

It is critical that administrators, teachers, students, and parents learn more about these threats to be better prepared to prevent, protect and mitigate issues within their school community. Throughout the campaign, you will learn about the critical areas of cyber vulnerabilities that school communities may face as students continue to learn virtually, including:

  • Online Exploitation: Due to school closings as a result of COVID-19, children will potentially have an increased online presence and/or be in a position that puts them at an inadvertent risk. Learn how to teach students about the dangers of online interactions.
  • Ransomware: As students spend time online for remote learning and recreation, beware of ransomware – malware that threatens to destroy files unless a ransom is paid. Educate students about accessing secure sites and files.   
  • Videoconferencing, online platforms, and phishing: To ensure students are as safe as possible online, implement safe practices for videoconferencing and other online platforms and beware of phishing schemes that seek out personal information. Ensure your school community has good cyber hygiene and is using safe online programs.

Resource Button

Resources and guidance on the above cyber vulnerabilities will be provided throughout the campaign. We also encourage you to learn more about cybersecurity threats on by visiting the COVID-19 Resources page. You can also follow @SchoolSafetyGov on Twitter for resources to cybersecurity information and other school safety topics.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Register for Post-Mortem Computed Tomography Basics: Facility and Technical Aspects


Webinar date: Tuesday, April 13th, 2021, 1:00 PM ET – 2:00 PM ET

In the first webinar, participants will be introduced to x-ray computed tomography (CT) and some key differences between CT and traditional x-ray. The basic specifications of a CT scanner (such as bore diameter, maximum image size, and table specifications) will be introduced, with reference to their impact on whole body post-mortem scanning in particular. Basic considerations for deploying a CT scanner in a medical examiner setting (cost, personnel, space, safety) will also be discussed.

Participants will be introduced to the workflow and imaging protocols used routinely at the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI), including the layout of the image rooms, body movement and positioning, and how the images are reconstructed and displayed. Image data is reconstructed into several series, each of which is a stack of 2-dimensional images (slices).

Each series is reconstructed using a specific combination of algorithm, slice thickness, image plane (axial, coronal or sagittal), and default display settings (window and level), chosen to optimize the assessment of the anatomy of interest. The gray scale values displayed in CT are the Hounsfield Unit (HU) scale, a quantitative measure of the density of each tissue type.

Finally, image storage considerations will be discussed. Participants will be introduced to how a PACS (picture archiving and communications system) server enables large image data sets generated from PMCT to be accessed and reviewed at workstations throughout the office, while also ensuring that images are archived securely and redundantly.