Assessing Homeland Security Risks

A Comparative Risk Assessment of 10 Hazards

Published in: Homeland Security Affairs, v. 11, no. 10, Dec. 2015, p. 1-24

Posted on RAND.org on April 04, 2016

by Russell Lundberg, Henry H. Willis

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The National Academy of Sciences recommended that the Department of Homeland Security use methods of qualitative comparative risk assessment as part of its approach to strategic planning. To provide insight into how this can be done, this paper examines a set of ten homeland security risks--including natural disasters, terrorist events, and major accidents--in a systematic fashion. These hazards were described in terms of the annualized risk to the United States as a whole using open-source data and a standardized set of attributes. This assessment can be useful on its own, providing a baseline of knowledge about these homeland security risks and a source of data for subsequent risk management and comparative risk assessment studies. Additionally, this assessment can help identify what is known about the homeland security risk generally--the availability of data on homeland security risks and the uncertainty of the risks as they vary by hazard and attribute.

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