Essay Sample on Risks to Homeland Security and Mitigation Strategies

Published: 2023-01-20
Essay Sample on Risks to Homeland Security and Mitigation Strategies
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Analysis Risk management Homeland security
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1705 words
15 min read

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calls for a risk-based approach to homeland security earlier after his Senate hearing. He continues to state that, DHS opt to base its work on risk-driven priorities, risk assessment and subsequent mitigation strategies are seen to have influenced global department efforts towards national prevention, recover and respond to future terrorist attacks as a national disaster.

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Risk analysis practice tends to be less established in homeland security though there exist various reasons why there exists a dynamic nature concerning homeland security which include (1) the abilities of terrorists to adapt any laid countermeasures and their dynamic environment. (2) There is an absence of rich past databases of terrorist attacks which leaves security firms to depend on terrorists expert analysts for probability assessments on terrorist attack forms against critical assets and regions as well as intelligence officers. The analysis conducted in this particular context covers risk assessment approaches by Justice Department found in FY2002 to DHS in FY2007, also includes a detailed overview on the risk management discipline as used in Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP).

Terrorism risks are analyzed and assessed as a way of buying down risks over time by defining specific strategies for application across the region. Homeland Security Grant program is the primary tool used by the agency as an influential body to local partners and the State to take immediate action to what both parties agree to be a terrorist threat attack and also effective responding to these attacks at DHS. Some flexibility degrees are needed regardless of how sophisticated the risk assessment methodology is in a counterterrorism context where the situations are dynamic.

Taking an empirical assessment of historical terrorism attacks data in the United States, this may play an essential aspect of risks reduction and resource allocation. This particular analysis report focuses on presenting various risks which are related to grant program options for congressional considerations. (1) maintaining the quo status in risk assessment areas as well as grant allocation in an inextricably linked manner. (2) drafting of national impact assessment to develop clear understanding returns on $12 billion investment capital which had been spent by FY2008 by Homeland Security Grant Program. (3) enhancement of transparency on risk allocation strategy to local and state government. (4) Developing a long-term comprehensive plan for mitigating, assessing, and managing risks. To achieve such goals, the government must consider organizational and procedural changes - mitigation strategies within the final section of the analysis report.

In the financial year 2004, money allocation across the country states raised a debate on how such allocation of homeland security grant was done. Wyoming state Homeland Security Grant amounted $14,360,000, California got 133,964,000 while New York got $78,827,000. Wyoming would receive less money compared to California and New York. On closer examine on the matter, according to 2004 census bureau estimates, Wyoming appeared to have received an approximate of $28.34 in SHSG per capita funding while California and New York received 3.73 and $4.10 per capita respectively. The reason behind such money allocation has remained questionable to many especially following recent attacks and plots against certain locations in California and New York, also including the 1993 bombing of World Trade Centre, Millennium plot against Los Angeles International Airport and Blind Sheikh plot. Most key stakeholders across all government levels questioned to learn more on how Security Grant allocation process and methodology is done.

Risks analyst tend to come into the consensus that the same level of terrorism risks faces all communities. On the other hand, homeland security officials believe that it is not possible to offer security protection to every community to make it hardened for any form of attack from the national perspective field, identifying areas with high risks and working towards reducing such risks. The only unclear area is best ways for evaluating homeland security risks and establishing an acceptable level of risks while attempting to close threats and capabilities. DHS has defined clear risks assessment methodologies, which are sampled through the Homeland Security Grant Program.

Risk Assessment-Related to legislative activity

Concurrent with the commission's critique and internal efforts which exist within DHS to upgrade to a more risk-based approach, congress members set a series of bills and the simultaneous amendment to homeland security Act which is aimed at reformation of distributing homeland security grant funds. There have been few suggestions, such as creating new coordination bodies. Understanding DHS risk assessment processes, as well as proposed actions, give an insight into the evolvement of various risk assessment strategies over time and their usefulness.

Stages of developing risks assessments

According to homeland security, there are three stages within risk assessment evolution methodologies. Each step has some unique characteristics.

Stage I: R=P. This particular period spans from the financial year 2001 when the justice department (DOJ) had essential primarily responsibilities of risks assessment up to the fiscal year 2002 to 2003 when its functions were moved to DHS. This is the early stage of risk development. At this period, the risk is viewed in terms of a number of the population. Risk (R) is equated with the community (P).

Stage 2: R=T+CI+PD. During this particular time, the financial year 2004 to the fiscal year 2005 is evaluated. The extreme importance of crucial population density, infrastructure among other variables was involved in risk assessment. The formula for risk calculation included the addition of such variables. Probabilistic results were not useful in the risk assessment strategies. The risk was given by summing up threat (T), critical infrastructure (CI), and population density (PD).

Stage 3: R=T*V*C=T*(V&C). At this particular moment, the analysis was taken from the financial year 2006 to date; time was considered to be probability after one specific event was taken into account in the formula. FY2006 was very much significant as it marked a significant upgrade from the second stage. It is at this stage that DHS examines both geographical locations as well as risks to assets. After the epic swearing in of Chertoff as the department secretary, in February 2005, there was a significant organization and strategical changes. Concerning the DHS organization, the secretary made announcements that new risk-based methods to use would reflect departments al activities and fair distribution of future federal funds. The new techniques developed as an approach to funds allocation needed risks assessment using the formula which incorporated threats consideration to specific target areas and multiplying them by vulnerability (V) of the same target area, multiplied by consequences (C) of an attack on the target area. The risk assessment formula then was R=T*V*C. The addition of variables as used in earlier methodologies was no longer used. The weights of the given variables and related assessment of likelihoods of events would happen.

Current processes in risks assessment

According to a description given by Homeland Security Guidance on DHS, the various risks assessment approaches as per the risk analysis model developed by DHS about other federal entities. Risk is built on three major principles, namely:

Threat (T)- the likelihood of an attack happening. Population densities can be a misleading factor in assessing risks. This is because, some cities defined some geographical limits, which may result in municipality presence having varying density ratios. While population densities may be an indicator for the likelihood of a terrorist attack taking place, this criteria may not be accurate enough where citizens are located off the metropolitan cities.

According to the Department of Homeland Security Second Secretary Michael Chertoff at theStage Review, July 13, 2005, stating "We must make tough choices about how to invest finite human and financial capital in attaining the optimal state of preparedness. To do this, we will focus preparedness on objective measures of risk and performance. Our risk analysis is based on these three variables: threat, vulnerability, and consequences. These variables are not equal. For example, some infrastructure is quite vulnerable, but the consequences of an attack are relatively small; other infrastructure may be much less vulnerable, but the consequences of a successful attack are very high, even catastrophic."

Vulnerability and consequences (V&C)- dealt with exposure and expected attack impacts. Though the discussion on risk assessment methodology continues in DHS is presented in terms R=T*V*C, this appears that vulnerability and consequence (C) as an amalgamated, separate single variable. Due to the various challenges associated with vulnerabilities across geographical areas of the states, according to DHS, it has multiple effects having assigned values about vulnerability. DHS concludes that the three variables could exist as per the FY2007 method.

Risk mitigation strategies toward terrorism as a national threat

Risk mitigation strategies are developed from the current state- evolution of DHS risk assessment process and the generated formula has emerging questions which are ever evolving especially in an area such as responsibilities of mitigating risks, minimum grant allotment, developing risk formula implications, risk assessment process transparency.

Transparency- additional information included by the department in the fiscal year 2007 should leave room for the applicants of the DHS grant funds in having a clear understanding of information types included in the available data-sets and the various ways of assessing the weights within the risk management process. Despite transparency satisfying some of the grant processes criticisms, other concerns are left on perfecting and making the formula effective and ensuring it meets the needs of those at high risk.

Risk formula evaluation- by adopting R=T*V*C, may be seen as a significant change towards risk assessment methodology according to the fiscal year 2006 in DHS though other observers may need a various continuous adjustment of the formula in establishing a national baseline for risk management ignoring any emerging concerns within the society.

Guaranteed minimums- some observers in homeland security suggests that future congressional or change in executive branches to DHS risk assessment formula as it has been reported by the Interagency Threat Assessment Coordination Group (ITACG) that on the issues of Terror threats homeland security should not exclude the local officials from sharing data.

Responsibility for risks and federal Grant Level reduction - it has been suggested that it is unrealistic for grant levels to continue to rise as the budget concerns on weighing of future appropriation. Others view it within risks boundaries have continued to shore specific previous vulnerabilities they will need less federal funding due to having a low-risk profile.

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