HOMELAND SECURITY

SAFETY Act Participation Grows

11/1/2008
By Matthew Rusling
The Department of Homeland Security has seen a significant surge in the number of contractors seeking protection from lawsuits under the SAFETY Act.

The six-year-old legislation, which stands for Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies, allows DHS to screen companies that design and develop anti-terrorism technology — both products and services — and determine whether those firms should be exempt from future litigation resulting from a terrorist attack.

The act was designed to encourage the development of antiterrorism technologies in the private sector. But its implementation was delayed initially because DHS did not have enough personnel overseeing the program.

Silvia Cabrera, director of the office of SAFETY Act implementation at DHS, said applications have grown more than 60 percent since 2006 and small business applications have grown by 130 percent. SAFETY Act approvals have increased from 179 last year to 243 so far this year.

John S. Verrico, a DHS spokesman, said that soaring participation is partly a result of the government’s outreach efforts, which include holding workshops and helping companies complete their applications.

Among the latest technologies to be certified under the SAFETY Act are a new fertilizer developed by Honeywell and an airport detector made by American Science and Engineering Inc.

Honeywell Resins & Chemicals patented an ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer that the company says has significantly lower explosive potential and makes it more difficult to turn it into a weapon.

American Science and Engineering received SAFETY Act certification for cargo and parcel X-ray inspection products and services.

Under the act, if a terrorist incident occurred, the seller and user of the technology are granted limited liability protections for claims alleging failure of those covered technologies.

Topics: Defense Contracting, Homeland Security

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