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November 2018 | Washington, D.C

James McDonnell

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
In June 2017, President Trump appointed Mr. James F. McDonnell as the Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). DNDO is the lead federal agency mandated to develop and enhance radiological and nuclear detection and national technical nuclear forensics capabilities. Under his leadership, DNDO conducts research and development of detection and forensics technologies, characterizes system performance, acquires and deploys detection systems, supports operational partners, and builds and sustains the pipeline of next generation technical experts. Mr. McDonnell is a recognized expert in the area of WMD-related terrorism. He enlisted in the Navy in 1975 and retired as a commissioned officer after twenty years of service in special operations and counterterrorism. After leaving the Navy, he founded the National Security Programs business unit at Oak Ridge Associated Universities and managed a number of terrorism-related national security activities, including restructuring the technical response by the U.S. to nuclear terrorism threats. Mr. McDonnell has senior executive experience in the federal government and the private sector, where he directed security, police, and other risk management functions. He has served in the Senior Executive Service in DHS, the Department of Energy, and the White House. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Mr. McDonnell became the founding director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Assurance, which is responsible for the protection of the nation’s energy infrastructure. When President George W. Bush announced the creation of DHS, Mr. McDonnell moved to the Homeland Security Transition Planning Office within the White House to begin the work of building the Department’s infrastructure protection capability. As part of the original executive leadership team at the Department, he was responsible for the initial development and management of today’s Infrastructure Protection Office. He formed and directed the development of several national programs at the Department, which included management of security activities through several high-threat periods, the development of a National Protection Plan, and the implementation of the Buffer Zone Protection Plan. Mr. McDonnell received his Bachelor of Science degree from Regents College, University of the State of New York, and earned a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University. He also attended Harvard University’s Senior Executives in National and International Security program. He has volunteered his time on boards, task forces, and advisory committees, with a focus on homeland security policy and community preparedness and response. Mr. McDonnell has published an article on nuclear terrorism response, as well as a book on domestic terrorism incidents. He has contributed to publications addressing corporate security, homeland security, and critical decision-making

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