Cover: Comparing Homeland Security Risks Using a Deliberative Risk Ranking Methodology

Comparing Homeland Security Risks Using a Deliberative Risk Ranking Methodology

Published Oct 21, 2013

by Russell Lundberg

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Managing homeland security risks involves balancing concerns about numerous types of accidents, disasters, and terrorist attacks. These risks can vary greatly in kind and consequence, and as a result are perceived differently. How people perceive the risks around them influences the choices they make about activities to pursue, opportunities to take, and situations to avoid. Reliably capturing these choices in risk management is a challenging example of comparative risk assessment. The National Academy of Sciences review of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) risk analysis identifies developing methods of comparative risk assessment as an analytic priority for homeland security planning and analysis.

The Deliberative Method for Ranking Risks incorporates recommendations from the empirical literature on risk perceptions into both the description of the risks and the process of eliciting preferences from individuals and groups. It has been empirically validated with the participation of hundreds of citizens, risk managers, and policy makers in the context of managing risks to health, safety, and the environment. However, these methods have not as of yet been used in addressing the challenge of managing natural disaster and terrorism hazards.

Steps in this effort include first identifying the set of attributes that must be covered when describing terrorism and disaster hazards in a comprehensive manner, then developing concise summaries of existing knowledge of how the hazards in a unique comparative dataset of a broad set of homeland security risks. Using these materials, the study elicits relative concerns about the hazards that are being managed. The relative concerns about hazards provide a starting point for prioritizing solutions for reducing risks to homeland security.

This research presents individuals' relative concerns about homeland security hazards and the attributes which influence those concerns. The consistency and agreement of the rankings, as well as the individual satisfaction with the process and results, suggest that the deliberative method for ranking risks can be appropriately applied in the homeland security domain.

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2013 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Henry Willis (Chair), Brian Jackson, and Lisa Jaycox.

This publication is part of the RAND dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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