Henry H. Willis

Photo of Henry Willis
Director, RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center; Senior Policy Researcher; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in engineering and public policy, Carnegie Mellon University; M.A. in environmental engineering and science, University of Cincinnati; B.A. in chemistry and environmental sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Media Resources

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Henry H. Willis is director of the RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Willis has applied risk analysis tools to resource allocation and risk management decisions in the areas of public health and emergency preparedness, homeland and national security policy, energy and environmental policy, and transportation planning. He is the author of dozens of publications, book chapters, and op-ed pieces and has testified before Congress as an expert on applying risk analysis to homeland security policy. Willis's recent research has involved assessing the costs and benefits of terrorism security measures like the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and evaluating the impact of public health emergency preparedness grant programs like the Cities Readiness Initiative. Willis earned his B.A. in chemistry and environmental studies from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.A. in environmental science from the University of Cincinnati, and his Ph.D. from the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Pardee RAND Graduate School Courses

Recent Projects

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of port security initiatives
  • Prioritizing environmental health risks in the UAE
  • Assessing alternative allocation policies for homeland security resources
  • Using modeling and simulation to assess military capabilities
  • Evaluation of the Cities Readiness Initiative

Selected Publications

D. S. Ortiz et al., Increasing the Capacity of Freight Transportation: U.S. and Canadian Perspectives, RAND Corporation (CF-228), 2007

Michael D. Greenberg et al., Maritime Terrorism: Risk and Liability, RAND Corporation (MG-520), 2006

Henry H. Willis et al., Protecting Emergency Responders, Volume 4: Personal Protective Equipment Guidelines for Structural Collapse Events, RAND Corporation (MG-425), 2006

Henry Willis et al., Estimating Terrorism Risk, RAND Corporation (MG-388), 2005

Susan E. Martonosi, David S. Ortiz, Henry H. Willis "Evaluating the Viability of 100 Per Cent Container Inspection at America's Ports," in Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon, James E. Moore II, eds., The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2005

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Charleston Post and Courier; Journal of Commerce; NPR; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Voice of America

Commentary: Los Angeles Business Journal; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; San Diego Union-Tribune; United Press International


  • A U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee works in front of a U.S. threat level map and monitoring display

    Streamlining Congressional Oversight of DHS

    At a time when terrorist threats abound both at home and abroad, the DHS and Congress should be working as one to bolster America's defenses. To do this Congress should simplify the way it oversees homeland security.

    Jul 29, 2014 | The RAND Blog

  • Officer Eric Darnsteadt from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service inspects shipping containers arriving at Port Newark with a truck-mounted X-ray machine

    Securing America's Ports by Better Measuring Capabilities

    Funding for improving U.S. port security has declined from $389 million in 2008 to $100 million in 2014. This makes it more important than ever to ensure the highest possible return on investment from grant funding.

    Jun 13, 2014 | The RAND Blog

  • The Tribute in Light is illuminated on the skyline of New York's Lower Manhattan as people look across the Hudson River in Jersey City, September 11, 2013

    3 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Facts for Congress to Consider

    With the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act set to expire this year, Congress is currently revisiting a crucial question: What is the appropriate government role in terrorism insurance markets? As the debate unfolds on Capitol Hill, policymakers should consider three key research findings.

    Jun 12, 2014 | U.S. News & World Report

  • The first U.S. Customs and Border Protection unmanned aerial vehicle in 2004.

    Improving DHS Accountability for Acquisitions

    While management at the Department of Homeland Security progressed in many areas during the past decade, there is still plenty of room for growth and improvement, especially in the area of acquisition management.

    Apr 22, 2014 | The RAND Blog

  • Masked Sunni gunmen chant slogans during a protest against Iraq's Shiite-led government

    Fight Today's Terrorist Threat, Not Yesterday's

    Counterterrorism is not just about daring raids and drone strikes. It is about the hard work of collecting and sifting through vast amounts of information and managing relationships among organizations that often regard sharing information as an unnatural act.

    Feb 7, 2014 | U.S. News & World Report

  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Jeh Johnson during an announcement for Johnson to be his nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security

    Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for New Homeland Security Secretary

    To ensure the Department of Homeland Security makes progress in the current constrained budget environment, its new secretary must put in place a strategic perspective to guide priorities for how to address the country's most pressing problems in disaster management, immigration reform, cybersecurity, violent extremism, and nuclear terrorism.

    Oct 24, 2013 | The RAND Blog

  • Homeland Security Investigations agents capture Mexican national wanted for kidnapping

    Border Security Is Key to Immigration Reform

    Two important aspects of border security bear continued attention: strategy must be developed as one part of a holistic system of immigration management and any progress on improving this system is reliant on having concrete and sensible objectives and measures of success.

    Jul 15, 2013 | Houston Chronicle

  • Massachusetts National Guardsmen in Boston

    Reacting to Boston

    Basing public safety decisions on risk analysis allows authorities to devote public resources to those counterterrorism measures that have the potential to do the most good, writes Henry Willis.

    Apr 22, 2013 | U.S. News & World Report

  • The Harbor Police K-9 Team explosive detection canine perform a search on luggage at San Diego International Airport

    More Secure or Less Free?

    It is thus not surprising that people report a willingness to trade convenience, money, and liberty for security. Legal precedent reinforces that decreased civil liberties may be accepted when confronting existential threats with demonstrably effective security—to a point, writes Henry H. Willis.

    Dec 17, 2012 | RAND.org

  • Revisiting 100% Inspection

    It is good that the congressmen have asked the Obama administration to revisit supply chain security. However, precipitous changes to how the global supply chain operates do not seem warranted, may not in fact improve security, and could have costly unintended consequences, writes Henry Willis.

    Jul 6, 2012 | RAND.org

  • The Upside of Snowmageddon

    The city's lame response shows, yet again, why we need more cooperation among local governments.

    Mar 28, 2010 | The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Speed Low-Risk Travelers Through Increased Security

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Speed Low-Risk Travelers Through Increased Security, in Los Angeles Business Journal.

    Sep 4, 2006 | Los Angeles Business Journal

  • Securing America's Ports

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Securing America's Ports, in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    Mar 26, 2006 | San Diego Union-Tribune

  • Katrina Shows Supply Chain Needs National Attention

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Katrina Shows Supply Chain Needs National Attention in the Los Angeles Business Journal.

    Sep 26, 2005 | Los Angeles Business Journal

  • Securing U.S. Supply Chain

    Published commentary by RAND staff:Securing U.S. Supply Chain appearing in United Press International.

    Aug 29, 2005 | United Press International

  • Quality, Not Quantity

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 26, 2004 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette