Senate Bill Envisages Research into Polygraph Alternatives

U.S. Senate Bill 1025, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, envisages future research into alternative technologies to the polygraph. The relevant section of S. 1025 is cited in full here:

SEC. 355. COORDINATION OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESEARCH ON SECURITY EVALUATIONS.

    (a) WORKSHOPS FOR COORDINATION OF RESEARCH- The National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall jointly sponsor not less than two workshops on the coordination of Federal Government research on the use of behavioral, psychological, and physiological assessments of individuals in the conduct of security evaluations.
    (b) DEADLINE FOR COMPLETION OF ACTIVITIES- The activities of the workshops sponsored under subsection (a) shall be completed not later than March 1, 2004.
    (c) PURPOSES- The purposes of the workshops sponsored under subsection (a) are as follows:
    • (1) To provide a forum for cataloging and coordinating Federally-funded research activities relating to the development of new techniques in the behavioral, psychological, or physiological assessment of individuals to be used in security evaluations.
    • (2) To develop a research agenda for the Federal Government on behavioral, psychological, and physiological assessments of individuals, including an identification of the research most likely to advance the understanding of the use of such assessments of individuals in security evaluations.
    • (3) To distinguish between short-term and long-term areas of research on behavioral, psychological, and physiological assessments of individuals in order maximize the utility of short-term and long-term research on such assessments.
    • (4) To identify the Federal agencies best suited to support research on behavioral, psychological, and physiological assessments of individuals.
    • (5) To develop recommendations for coordinating future Federally-funded research for the development, improvement, or enhancement of security evaluations.
    (d) ADVISORY GROUP- (1) In order to assist the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology Policy in carrying out the activities of the workshops sponsored under subsection (a), there is hereby established an interagency advisory group with respect to such workshops.
    (2) The advisory group shall be composed of the following:
    • (A) A representative of the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Directorate of the National Science Foundation.
    • (B) A representative of the Office of Science, and Technology Policy.
    • (C) The Secretary of Defense, or a designee of the Secretary.
    • (D) The Secretary of State, or a designee of the Secretary.
    • (E) The Attorney General, or a designee of the Attorney General.
    • (F) The Secretary of Energy, or a designee of the Secretary.
    • (G) The Secretary of Homeland Security, or a designee of the Secretary.
    • (H) The Director of Central Intelligence, or a designee of the Director.
    • (I) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or a designee of the Director.
    • (J) The National Counterintelligence Executive, or a designee of the National Counterintelligence Executive.
    • (K) Any other official assigned to the advisory group by the President for purposes of this section.
    (3) The members of the advisory group under subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (2) shall jointly head the advisory group.
    (4) The advisory group shall provide the Foundation and the Office such information, advice, and assistance with respect to the workshops sponsored under subsection (a) as the advisory group considers appropriate.
    (5) The advisory group shall not be treated as an advisory committee for purposes of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.).
    (e) REPORT- Not later than March 1, 2004, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall jointly submit Congress a report on the results of activities of the workshops sponsored under subsection (a), including the findings and recommendations of the Foundation and the Office as a result of such activities.
    (f) FUNDING- (1) Of the amount authorized to be appropriated for the Intelligence Community Management Account by section 104(a), $500,000 shall be available to the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to carry out this section.
    (2) The amount authorized to be appropriated by paragraph (1) shall remain available until expended.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has also published a Report on the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2004 that explains the provisions of Section 355 as follows:


Coordination of United States Government research on security evaluations

In October 2002, the National Academies of Science released a report entitled, `The Polygraph and Lie Detection’–`a scientific review of the research on polygraph examinations that pertains to their validity and reliability, in particular for personnel security screening.’ In the report–the first comprehensive assessment of the polygraph since the 1983 study by the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment–the National Academies stated:

[W]e recommend an expanded research effort directed at methods for deterring and detecting major security threats, including efforts to improve techniques for security screening. * * * We cannot guarantee that research related to techniques for detecting deception will yield valuable practical payoff for national security, even in the long term. However, given the seriousness of the national need, an expanded research effort appears worthwhile. * * * The research program we envision would seek any edge that science can provide for deterring and detecting security threats. It would have two major objectives: (1) to provide Federal agencies with methods of the highest possible scientific validity for protecting national security by deterring and detecting espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and other major security threats; and (2) to make these agencies fully aware of the strengths and limitations of the techniques they use.

In Section 355, the Committee authorizes $500,000 from the Intelligence Community Management Account for the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology to convene components of the U.S. Government to provide a forum to catalogue and coordinate Federally-funded research activities relating to the development of new techniques in the behavioral, psychological, or physiological assessment of individuals to be used in security evaluations. This effort is intended to serve as an important step in developing a more focused research effort leading to the development of alternatives to the polygraph as a security evaluation tool for the U.S. Government. By March 1, 2004, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Science and Technology are required to jointly submit to Congress a written report identifying the research most likely to advance the understanding of the use of such assessments of individuals in security evaluations; distinguish between short-term and long-term areas of research in order to maximize the utility of short-term and long-term research on such assessments; identify the Federal departments and agencies best suited to support such research; and develop recommendations for coordinating future Federally-funded research for the development, improvement, or enhancement of security evaluations. The components of the Federal Government who will participate in this effort include DoD, DoE, the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Counterintelligence Executive.

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