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In 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asked RAND to design and implement a homeland security national risk assessment to help inform DHS strategic planning by identifying and characterizing natural hazards and threats to the nation. This report responds to that request. It presents a risk assessment methodology that can be used to identify the greatest risks to homeland security and support prioritization of DHS mission elements. The methodology is also designed to address important critiques made by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in its assessments of the 2010 and 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Reviews. The framework is designed to assist DHS in describing a set of threats and hazards that is strategically relevant; to describe threats and hazards in a consistent way; and to provide DHS with a methodology that is repeatable and transparent.

This report describes the risk assessment methodology itself. A companion volume, not available to the general public, presents summary sheets of threats and hazards to inform discussion of DHS risk management priorities.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Selecting Threats and Hazards

  • Chapter Three

    Selecting Risk Attributes

  • Chapter Four

    Data Collection and Characterization of Threats and Hazards

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusion: How Risk Assessment Informs Risk Management

  • Appendix A

    Draft Lists of Recommendations for Threats and Hazards to Be Included

  • Appendix B

    Definitions of Threats and Hazards

  • Appendix C

    Literature Consulted in the Identification of Potential Attributes to Describe Threats and Hazards

  • Appendix D

    Attributes Identified Through Literature Review

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Policy — Strategy, Plans, Analysis, and Risk (SPAR) and conducted within the RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center, a joint center of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment and the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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