RAND Workshops Help Office of Security Devise Protection Plan

A new RAND project is bringing government and private-sector leaders together to help the Office of Homeland Security devise a national strategy and plans to protect America's critical infrastructure from terrorist attack.

The effort kicked off in March, when 127 representatives from federal, state, and local governments and from private industry convened at RAND's Washington, D.C. office to discuss ways to protect critical transportation assets in the United States. The effort continued on April 25 and 26, when a second group of government and business leaders visited RAND to discuss issues connected with protecting America's energy assets, its banking and finance systems, and its critical defense industries.

A third workshop later this year will present results of these preliminary discussions to so-called first responders--individuals in state and local governments who are likely to arrive first on the scene of a terrorist attack.

President Bush established the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) last fall in response to the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The president named former Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Ridge as OHS's first director and directed him to develop and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen protections against terrorist threats or attacks in the United States.

RAND Analysts Bruce Don and David Mussington are spearheading RAND's effort, which is being conducted within the National Defense Research Institute. The project's workshops are designed to support OHS in drafting a national homeland security strategy. The workshops also are designed to lay out the requirements and research priorities for the new National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center, which has been charged with developing state-of-the-art computational tools to measure the consequences--in dollars, lives, and political effects--of potential and hypothetical threats. OHS will use these measures to gain a clearer understanding of how different policy and resource choices will influence homeland security outcomes.

Participants in the workshops are asked to identify areas where they are vulnerable to terrorist attack, detail impediments blocking their ability to reduce those vulnerabilities, and suggest solutions.

Later this year, RAND will host two major symposia to present the results of these workshops. These symposia are slated to be large, national events, involving a wide range of private- sector and state and local government participants from across the country.

OHS may rely on the findings from these workshops as it develops America's first national homeland security plan, which is scheduled to be released in September 2002. It also may turn to RAND for other assistance as it creates the plan.