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Strategic planning is necessary if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is to carry out its border-security missions effectively and efficiently. As part of that, DHS leadership must define concrete and sensible objectives and measures of success. These can be used to assess results along the way, to guide allocation of resources, and to inform programming and budgeting for future capabilities and functions. This report offers research and recommendations on ways to measure the overall efforts of the national border-security enterprise between ports of entry. To be meaningful, the set of measures for effectiveness of border security should be sound, reliable, useful, and general. Three DHS missions appear to currently be of special interest to DHS leadership because they are especially problematic: illegal drug control, counterterrorism, and illegal migration. The report recommends measuring performance of three fundamental functions that border-security efforts contribute to achieving national policy objectives: interdiction, deterrence, and exploiting networked intelligence. If the steps described here are taken, DHS and its components will be in a better position to discuss past performance and to provide reasoned justifications for future allocation of resources. Further, they will be able to relate their efforts to those of other agencies in pursuit of national objectives.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    General Missions, Focus Missions, and Criteria for Measuring Effectiveness

  • Chapter Three

    A Conceptual Model of Border Security as a Foundation for Measurement

  • Chapter Four

    Contributions of Border Security to Drug Control, Counterterrorism, and Illegal Migration

  • Chapter Five

    Recommended Measures for Controlling Drugs, Immigration, and Border Crossing by Terrorists

  • Chapter Six

    Implementing Steps to Measure Border Security

This research was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and was conducted under the auspices of the RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center, a joint center of the RAND National Security Research Division and RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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