Wednesday, May 8, 2013

National Radiological and Nuclear Detection Challenge

Okay, I’m not making this up. Today the DHS Domestic Nuclear  Detection Office published a notice in the Federal Register (78 FR 26795-26798) announcing the National Radiological and Nuclear Detection (Rad/Nuc) Challenge to be held in August 20-22, 2013 at the I.G. Brown Air National Guard Training and Education Center, Alcoa, Tennessee.

Rad/Nuc Challenge

According to the notice:

“The Rad/Nuc Challenge will consist of a competitive RND search exercise held over a three-day period. The competition is designed to develop and recognize enhanced RND search skills, train on the use of various pieces of RND equipment, and influence vendors and developers to adapt and improve RND equipment capability and suitability for field use.”

The notice describes who may participate in the challenge, how to register to compete, how the winners will be selected, and what the winners will receive. It also explains the two events included in the challenge; the Maze, and the Container Search. There will also be a commercial exhibition of RND technology associated with this challenge.


Yes, the business of detection of radiological and/or nuclear devices is a deadly serious business. Yes, competitions are an excellent method of encouraging and evaluating the building of team skills. But to elevate this to a level that requires a three page Federal Register notice? Are they serious?

Okay, let’s assume that they are serious and this isn’t some massive prank executed by hackers targeting the Government Printing Office. That means that there are some [SARCASM WARNING] serious violations of federal law being executed here. I mean, where was the information collection request for the forms to be used to collect the registration information? Where is the public publication and comment period on the rules for the competition? Where is the Presidential appointment and Senate advice and consent of the judges?

All sarcasm aside; where is the money coming from for funding this exercise. If, as I hope, it is coming from voluntary contributions from the private sector, I’m all for this and let the games begin. If the money is coming, as I suspect, from federal coffers then I want an accounting for the number of federal employees that could have had their sequester furloughs canceled if this challenge did not go forward.

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