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United States General Accounting Office: 


Before the Subcommittee on Technology and Procurement Policy, 
Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EDT: 
Friday June 7, 2002: 

National Preparedness: 

Integrating New and Existing Technology and Information Sharing
into an Effective Homeland Security Strategy: 

Statement of Randall A. Yim: 
Managing Director, National Preparedness: 


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today's hearing on 
homeland security. In the wake of the terrorism attacks of September 
11, the Office of Homeland Security is preparing a strategy to address 
these threats to our nation. In addition, federal, state, and local 
governments, and the private sector, are taking steps to strengthen 
the safety and security of the American people, including actions to 
strengthen border and port security, airport security, and health and 
food security and to protect critical infrastructure. You asked me to 
discuss what challenges exist in facilitating these security 
initiatives–particularly in terms of technology and information 
sharing—and how addressing these challenges fits in with developing 
and implementing a national preparedness strategy. 

In brief, there are specific data, information-sharing, and technology 
challenges facing the country in developing and implementing a 
national preparedness strategy. 

* The nature of the terrorist threat makes it difficult to identify 
and differentiate information that can provide an early indication of 
a terrorist threat from the mass of data available to those in 
positions of authority responsible for homeland security. 

* We face considerable barriers—cultural, legal, and technical–in 
effectively collecting and sharing information. 

* Many technologies key to addressing threats are not yet available, 
and many existing technologies have not been effectively adapted for 
the threats the country now faces. 

The real challenge, however, is not just to find the right solutions 
to each of these problems but to weave solutions together in an 
integrated and intelligent fashion so that they are collectively more 
than the sum of their parts. At the national level, this will require 
developing a blueprint, or architectural construct, that defines both 
the homeland security mission and the information, technologies, and 
approaches necessary to perform the mission in a way that is divorced 
from organizational parochialism and cultural differences. Local, 
state, and federal agencies responsible for homeland security will 
need to carry out their respective roles under this construct with a 
great deal of assistance from the private sector. Fortunately, there 
are starting points for addressing each challenge and actions are 
being taken to strengthen security in a broad range of areas. But 
there will still be a need for mechanisms to make sure that things 
happen as they should. 

In preparing for this testimony, we relied on our prior reports and 
testimonies on national preparedness, critical infrastructure 
protection, enterprise architectures, intellectual property, and 
information technology. We reviewed and analyzed studies on homeland 
security and a variety of proposals for developing a comprehensive 
strategy. We also analyzed government and industry reports on the use 
of remote sensing technologies, media reports of information-sharing 
difficulties, governmentwide guidance on the development of 
architectures, as well as statements from the Office of Homeland 
Security on the actions taken to address homeland-specific challenges. 
In addition, we recently discussed with industry officials the 
specific barriers to sharing information on vulnerabilities and 

The Threat That The Country Is Facing And How It Needs To Be 
Positioned To Respond: 

Our country cannot be 100-percent secure from terrorist attack, 
particularly when these threats are asymmetric to our strengths, and 
when terrorists intend to sustain their efforts for as long as need be 
but view success in terms of single, isolated events causing loss of 
life or disruption of normal daily routines. What makes it 
particularly difficult to gauge and respond to this kind of threat? 

* Terrorist groups are typically loosely structured, fluid and 
flexible units, operating in the background seeking targets of 
opportunity—what futurist Edith Weiner terms "hiborgs" or hybrid 
organizations. By contrast, our government is highly structured and 
less able to change rapidly. 

* Terrorists groups take advantage of targets becoming complacent, or 
simply being unable to recognize threats that "blend" into the 
background of normal life. Countering this complacency and sustaining 
a high alert status on our part is very difficult. 

* The primary job of the terrorist is to find the soft spots, or 
vulnerabilities, such as lax airport security, unprotected borders, or 
weak controls over critical computer assets--and to attack these 
targets in asymmetric ways. Our job—to limit the soft spots—is much 
more difficult and costly. As the aftermath of the September 11 
attacks has shown, providing airports with adequate security alone is 
a massive challenge—requiring the hiring of thousands of security 
personnel, acquiring advanced security technology, placing undercover 
law enforcement officials on flights, developing new passenger 
boarding procedures, training pilots and flight crews on hijacking 
scenarios, limiting access points, deploying national guardsmen, and 
instituting second screening procedures. While significant steps have 
been taken to improve passenger security, concerns remain, such as the 
safety of charter airlines. 

* Moreover, our government agencies are still required to perform 
missions or provide essential public services that extend their 
responsibilities well beyond countering terrorists—with finite fiscal 
and human capital resources. 

It is extremely difficult to defend against a suicide bomber or other 
asymmetric threats. Yet we are not helpless. Asymmetry can also be 
made to work to our advantage particularly if we recognize that 
government institutions are highly structured and less fluid, and 
deliberately take advantage of innovative and readily adaptable tools 
that enable us to better counter terrorists and employ our positive 
asymmetrical advantages against such groups. Moreover, this country 
has tremendous resources at its disposal, leading edge technologies, a 
superior research and development base, and extensive expertise and 
experience of human capital resources. However, there are substantial 
challenges to leveraging these tools, including getting the right 
information at the right time and sharing it and getting the right 
technologies, and developing a construct that makes sure not only that 
the right information goes to the right people, but that we can 
prevent, detect, and respond to attacks in a concerted, effective 

Data Challenges: 

What Needs to Be Done? 

* Develop an understanding of the homeland security mission and who 
does what, for what reason, and how/where/when they do it. From that 
knowledge, decide on the types of data to be collected and reported as 
well as on the level of detail. 

* Collect needed information from a broad range of entities—from 
federal, state, and local agencies, the private sector, and the 
research and development community--not just once, but consistently 
over time so that trends may be established. 

* Determine the right format and standards for collecting data so that 
disparate agencies can aggregate and integrate data and communicate 
those standards to reporting entities. 

* Prioritize data, boil it down to the pieces that can be used to 
build baselines of normal activity and mechanisms that can effectively 
detect deviations or anomalies that would indicate vulnerabilities or 
threats and how serious they may be. 

Getting the right information needed for effective and sustainable 
homeland security will be a daunting challenge, considering the myriad 
of possible targets, types of attack, and variables that need to be 
considered in any one aspect of homeland security. Nevertheless it is 
important to begin deciding what needs to be collected, how it should 
be collected, and what form it should take so that we can begin to 
collect data that we will need over time to detect terrorist activity 
before an actual attack. 

The first challenge in doing this is to develop an understanding of 
the homeland security mission, goals, and objectives, and the key 
activities and players involved.[Footnote 1] This includes learning 
specifically (1) who does what for what reason; (2) how, where, and 
when they do it; (3) what do they use in order to do it; and (4) in 
what form. It also includes developing risk and threat analyses. 
Building this knowledge will be considerably difficult, considering 
the number of individuals and organizations involved in national 
preparedness and the asymmetrical nature of the threat, but it is 
essential to identify gaps in data, technology, and approaches. 

Other data-related challenges include the following: 

* Deciding what types of data need to be collected for certain 
activities as well as the level of detail. This can be extremely 
complex for any one aspect of national preparedness. Take 
transportation mobility, for example, which is critical in the event 
of a chemical, biological, or nuclear attack. Road network 
information, when combined with digital elevation models and terrain 
analysis would help analysts identify transportation or other 
infrastructure open to threats and to plan mitigating strategies. The 
same information would also help to identify alternate routing to 
evacuate or avoid affected areas. Census data and current weather 
patterns (winds, temperature, and humidity) would allow emergency 
management officials to determine which areas are most at risk and 
plan appropriate evacuation routes under multiple scenarios. Finally, 
any large-scale evacuation will stress emergency facilities and other 
transportation network elements. As immediate post-attack work done at 
the World Trade Center illustrates, real-time aerial data can also 
assist clean-up and recovery efforts.[Footnote 2] 

* Balancing varying interests and expectations. For example, as we 
have testified in the past,[Footnote 3] when it comes to protecting 
cyberspace, the private sector may want specific threat or 
vulnerability information so that immediate actions can be taken to 
avert an intrusion. Law enforcement agencies may want specific 
information on perpetrators and particular aspects of the attack, as 
well as the intent of the attack and the consequences of or damages 
due to the attack. At the same time, many computer security 
professionals may want the technical details that enable a user to 
compromise a computer system in order to determine how to detect such 

* Deciding how much is enough. It is important to recognize that it is 
not possible to build an overall, comprehensive picture of activity on 
a national scale or even certain confines of activity. For example, it 
would not be possible to develop a complete picture of the nation's 
information infrastructure. Networks themselves are too big, they are 
growing too quickly, and they are continually being reconfigured and 

* Determining the right format and standards for collecting data so 
that disparate agencies can aggregate and integrate data sets. For 
example, Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards could be 
considered as one option to exchange information among disparate 
systems.[Footnote 4] Further, guidelines and procedures need to be 
specified to establish effective data-collection processes, and 
mechanisms need to be put in place to make sure that this happens—
again, a difficult task, given the large number of government, 
private, and nonprofit organizations that will be involved in data 
collection. Finally, mechanisms will be needed to disseminate data, 
making sure that it gets into the hands of the right people at the 
right time. 

More importantly, to make sure the homeland strategy is sustainable, 
we eventually need to boil data down to the pieces that will allow us 
to build baselines of normal activity and mechanisms that will enable 
us to effectively detect deviations or anomalies that would indicate 
vulnerabilities or threats and how serious they may be. This is 
already done on a much smaller scale for such things as self-
diagnostic systems in automobiles, aircraft, and even electric 
appliances that alert the owner or manufacturer after sensing slight 
temperature changes or other small deviations that could indicate a 
mechanical problem even before it occurs. Moreover, it is done for 
protecting computer networks.[Footnote 5] But doing this promises to 
be an extremely complicated endeavor for homeland security. For 
starters, determining what is normal and abnormal activity relative to 
terrorists would be difficult because it would require developing an 
extensive body of knowledge—-beyond just intelligence information-—to 
build a baseline for terrorist activity when the activity itself is 
elusive, fluid, and difficult to predict. 

Fortunately, there are good places to start data gathering and 
modeling. Organizations known as Information Sharing and Analysis 
Centers (ISACs) are already collecting information on critical aspects 
of our infrastructure; government agencies at all levels have 
databases that may be adapted and become useful for such activities as 
tracking potential terrorists or detecting biological attacks; and 
extensive information is already being collected through the use of 
satellites and remote sensing technology that should be useful in 
building models to detect, analyze, and respond to threats. 

Starting Points: 

* Information Sharing and Analysis Centers are being established to 
develop information on the nation's critical infrastructure, 
specifically, information to identify vulnerabilities and prevent and 
respond to attacks. These include the National Coordinating Center for 
Telecommunications and the Financial Services Information Sharing and 
Analysis Center. In September 2001, we reported that six ISACs within 
five infrastructures had been established and that at least three more 
were being formed. 

* Federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 
the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Customs, Health and 
Human Services, already have databases containing information critical 
to homeland security. State and local governments also have databases 
that, if adapted, will be useful, such as those belonging to highway 
and transportation departments, county health departments, and school 

* Models and statistical techniques have already been developed by the 
military to analyze threats and provide "gaming" simulation of 
multiple-threat scenarios. In addition, agencies are already 
collecting information that could feed into these models, such as 
census and weather data; aerial mapping of cities and farmlands; 
detailed images of shipping and transportation routes; and maps 
detailing critical infrastructure and their capacities, such as 
telecommunications and utility lines. 

Information-Sharing Challenges: 

What Needs to Be Done? 

* Establish effective information-sharing between private-sector, 
nonprofit, and government organizations to facilitate research and 
development efforts, data collection efforts, law enforcement efforts, 
and efforts to respond to attacks. 

* Ensure that security measures exist to protect sensitive information. 

Events preceding and following the attacks of September 11 spotlighted 
one of our most serious vulnerabilities. We do not share information 
effectively, particularly when it comes to intelligence, law 
enforcement, and response activities. If we cannot do a better job of 
sharing information, we will not be able to effectively identify 
vulnerabilities, develop needed technology, and coordinate efforts to 
detect and respond to attacks. 

Federal agencies and the Congress are still looking into the specifics 
of information sharing-difficulties related to the September 11 
attacks, but recent reports of information-sharing failures within the 
FBI and CIA highlight some of the primary barriers we face: stovepiped 
organizational structures, inadequate database sharing, and simple 
"turf" issues. Legal and regulatory impediments may have made 
information-sharing even more difficult. 

This problem is not new. Two years ago, for example, we testified that 
the ILOVEYOU computer virus, which affected governments, corporations, 
media outlets, and other institutions worldwide, highlighted the need 
for greater information sharing and coordination to respond to attacks 
on our critical infrastructure. Because information-sharing mechanisms 
were not able to provide timely enough warnings against the impending 
attack, many entities were caught off guard and forced to take their 
networks off-line for hours. Getting the word out within some federal 
agencies themselves also proved difficult. At the Department of 
Defense, for example, the lack of teleconferencing capability slowed 
the response effort because Defense components had to be called 
individually. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had 
difficulty communicating warnings when E-mail services disappeared. 
Some departments that received warnings did not share that information 
with their bureaus. 

As illustrated below, however, the problem of information sharing is 
much more extensive than just sharing information about an impending 
attack—it extends from the early stages of research and development, 
to collecting data, preventing and detecting attacks, and responding 
to attacks. Barriers themselves extend well beyond poor mechanisms for 
issuing attack warnings or communicating calls for "heightened alert." 
For example, in recent discussions with us, industry officials said 
that their chief concern in sharing information about vulnerabilities 
and attacks is disclosure of proprietary data. Our past reviews have 
also highlighted concerns about roles and responsibilities, antitrust 
violations, and national security as barriers to sharing information. 

In short, there are formidable challenges that need to be overcome to 
build a more comprehensive and effective information-sharing 
relationships.[Footnote 6] Trust needs to be established among a broad 
range of stakeholders, important questions on the mechanics of 
information sharing and coordination need to be resolved, and roles 
and responsibilities need to be clarified among all levels of 


Where Information Sharing Can Potentially Break Down: Government 
efforts to sponsor research and development efforts to develop new 
homeland security technologies; 
* Intellectual property concerns may affect the willingness to 
contract with the government, including poor definitions of what 
technical data are needed by the government and unwillingness on the 
part of government officials to exercise the flexibilities available 
to them concerning intellectual property rights. 
* Concerns that inadvertent release of confidential business material, 
such as attempted or successful attacks, gaps in security, or trade 
secrets or proprietary information, could damage reputations, lower 
consumer confidence, hurt competitiveness, and decrease market shares 
of firms. 

Where Information Sharing Can Potentially Break Down: Government 
efforts to facilitate data sharing on critical infrastructures; 	
* Concerns about potential antitrust violations may keep companies 
from sharing information with other industry partners. 
* Concerns that sharing information with the government could subject 
data to Freedom of Information Act disclosures or expose companies to 
potential liability may also prevent companies from sharing data with 
government agencies. 

Where Information Sharing Can Potentially Break Down: Private sector 
efforts to get data from the government on potential vulnerabilities 
and threats; 
* National security concerns may prevent agencies from sharing data 
with the private sector. 
* The process of declassifying and sanitizing data takes time—-
possibly too long to be of use to private-sector time--critical 
* Security clearances may not be available for the "right people" who 
need to know. 

Where Information Sharing Can Potentially Break Down: Coordinating law 
enforcement and intelligence activities; 
* Law enforcement and intelligence agencies operate in "distinct 
universes" separated by jurisdictional, organizational, and
cultural boundaries. At the same time, however, roles and 
responsibilities at different levels of government are not always 
clear and distinct. 
* Information may be considered too sensitive to release to law 
enforcement colleagues because it could compromise source and 
collection techniques. 
* Certain laws and regulations as well as privacy concerns may prevent 
information sharing between federal agencies, state, and local law 
enforcement agencies. 
* Insufficient direction about what specific steps should be taken 
when security alert status is increased. 
* Lack of access to databases and problems with interconnectivity may 
impede information sharing between agencies. 

Where Information Sharing Can Potentially Break Down: Issuing attack 
warnings and responding to attacks; 
* Information-sharing mechanisms and procedures for warning against 
attacks, especially between different levels of government, may be 
* Roles and responsibilities between emergency, rescue, relief, and 
recovery organizations may not always be clear, especially at 
different levels of government. 

[End of table] 

Because information sharing was a critical problem in other crises 
facing the government, there are some very good models to learn from 
and build on. The ISACs mentioned earlier are a good example of 
government and private-sector relationships for information sharing. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also uses several 
information-sharing computer systems to help accomplish its mission to 
monitor health, detect and investigate health problems, and conduct 
research to enhance the prevention of disease.[Footnote 7] In 
addition, actions have already been taken by the Congress and the 
administration to strengthen information sharing. The USA Patriot Act, 
for example, enhances or promotes information sharing between federal 
agencies, and numerous terrorism task forces have been established to 
coordinate the investigations and improve communications between 
federal and local law enforcement agencies. Also, very recently, 
leading financial services firms in New York formed a private database 
company that will compile information about criminals, terrorists, and 
other suspicious people for use in screening new customers and weeding 
out those who may pose a risk. The company will specifically focus on 
helping financial companies comply with anti-money-laundering 
regulations, including requirements in legislative approved after the 
September 11 attacks. Additional private-sector solutions also need to 
be considered, such as current research efforts to link airline 
reservation systems. 

Starting Points: 

* The Agora is a Seattle-based regional network of over 600 
professionals representing various fields, including information 
systems security; law enforcement; local, state, and federal 
governments; engineering; information technology; academics; and other 
specialties. Members work to establish confidential ways for 
organizations to share sensitive information about common problems and 
best practices for dealing with security threats. They develop and 
share knowledge about how to protect electronic infrastructures, and 
they prompt more research specific to electronic information systems 

* Carnegie Mellon University's CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) is 
charged with establishing a capability to quickly and effectively 
coordinate communication between experts in order to limit damage, 
respond to incidents, and build awareness of security issues across 
the Internet community. In this role, CERT/CC receives Internet 
security-related information from system and network administrators, 
technology managers, and policymakers and provides them with this 
information along with guidance and coordination to major security 

Technology Challenges: 

What Needs to Be Done? 

* Research and develop new technologies integral to the fight against 
terrorism, such as bioweapon- or low-level-radioactive-weapons-
detection systems and biometric devices. 

* Refine emerging technologies so that they are more user friendly and 
less cost prohibitive. 

* Adapt existing technologies to the homeland security mission. 

* Connect and make interoperable databases integral to information 
sharing, such as those belonging to the FBI and INS. 

This is one area where we certainly have an edge over terrorists. 
Newly developed unmanned aerial vehicles are providing intelligence 
vital to military efforts in Afghanistan. Satellite networks and 
remote sensing technologies are facilitating assessments of threats 
overseas as well as military operations and guidance systems for 
weapons systems. However, though we have vast technological resources 
available on the homefront, there are substantial challenges 
confronting us. 

* Certain technologies important to homeland security have not been 
developed. These include bioweapons- and low-level-radioactive-weapons-
detection systems and disease surveillance systems. 

* Some technologies already in existence have not been effectively 
adapted to homeland security. Space-based satellites and sensors, for 
example, are being used to guide weapon systems, map cities, and study 
the weather and environment. But they also may be adapted to the 
homeland security mission. Moreover, some experts believe that making 
this transition may require modifications to current technology, such 
as the addition of video features so that we can observe ground 
activity as it is changing.[Footnote 8] 

* There is a lack of connectivity and interoperability between 
databases and technologies important to the homeland security effort. 
Databases belonging to federal law enforcement agencies and INS, for 
example, are not connected, and databases between state, local, and 
federal governments are not always connected. In fact, we have 
reported for years on federal information systems that are duplicative 
and not well integrated.[Footnote 9] A related problem is that there 
are not common standards for data exchange and application programming 
interfaces for technologies that provide physical security. As a 
result, much of the equipment needed to protect buildings is not 
interoperable. We recently testified, for example that deploying an 
access control system that uses a smart card containing a fingerprint 
biometric would require at least three pieces of equipment: the card 
reader device, the fingerprint scan device, and the hardware device 
used to house and operate the biometric software.[Footnote 10] If 
these devices are made by different manufacturers, they cannot 
function as an integrated environment without costly additional 
software to connect the disparate components. 

* Some existing technologies important to homeland security are not 
user-friendly. We recently testified that some biometric technologies 
are inconvenient to use.[Footnote 11] Retina scanning, for example, 
feels physically intrusive to some users because it requires close 
proximity with the retinal reading device. Moreover, fingerprinting
feels socially intrusive to some users because of its association with 
the processing of criminals. There is also an assortment of health 
concerns among a segment of the population regarding certain security 
technologies. For instance, there is evidence that pacemakers and 
hearing aids can be adversely affected by some detection technologies. 

* The capabilities of security technologies can be overestimated, 
potentially luring security officials into a false sense of security 
and relaxed vigilance. During our recent review of federal building 
security technologies, we found instances in which the performance of 
biometric technologies was overestimated.[Footnote 12] 

Because of our nation's substantial investment in technology and 
research and development, there are numerous good starting points for 
developing and harnessing technology needed for the homeland security 
mission. Significant advances, for example, have already been made in 
technologies needed to protect buildings, airports, and other 
facilities. We also have a good technological foundation, including 
space-based satellites, imagery, and remote sensing systems, to begin 
developing systems for effectively monitoring and gauging terrorist 

Additionally, the administration is promoting a host of new 
initiatives to acquire the technologies needed for homeland security. 
For example, projects already under way include the following: 

* Taking stock of what technologies are already available and what 
gaps exist. 

* Assessing what changes are needed to federal databases to facilitate 
information sharing. 

* Efforts to develop protocols to permit the access of databases and 
information owned by federal agencies as well as state and local 

* Developing an optimized entry-exit system for border security. 

* Assessing biometric technology options. 

Starting Points: 

Continue to Develop and Refine Emerging Technology: 

* Some of the emerging biometric devices, such as iris scans and 
facial recognition systems, theoretically represent a very effective 
security approach because biometric characteristics are distinct to 
each individual and, unlike identification cards and pin numbers or 
passwords, they cannot be easily lost, stolen, or guessed. Until 
recently, in addition to being very expensive, the performance of most 
biometric technologies had unreliable accuracy. However, prices have 
significantly decreased and, after years of research, the technology 
has recently been improved considerably.			
[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Iris scan technology is based on the unique visible characteristics of 
the eye's iris, the colored ring that surrounds the pupil. A high-
resolution digital image of the iris is taken to collect data. The 
system then defines the boundaries of the iris, establishes a 
coordinate system over the iris, and defines the zones for analysis 
within the coordinate system. The visible characteristics within the 
zone are then converted into a 512-byte template. 

[End of figure] 
Adapt potentially useful existing technology: 

Combining geospatial digital information tools, including remote 
sensing and satellite imagery technology, can assist efforts to model 
threat prevention and response scenarios and build baselines of normal 
activities and detect deviations from the norm. The same information 
can also be used to respond to a successful attack and assist in crime 
scene investigation. This technology is already being used to plan and 
execute military operations and analyze threats overseas, as well as 
to map cities, study the environment and weather, monitor 
transportation and shipping routes, monitor compliance with laws, 
regulations and treaties, and model differing scenarios to assist in 
planning and prevention. 

[Refer to PDF for image: Satellite photo with geospatial digitized 

[End of figure] 

Make Good Use of Low Tech Alternatives: 

* New ionization radiation technologies that the United States Postal 
Service (USPS) is implementing may be a promising way to sanitize mail 
contaminated by anthrax, but there are proven low-tech solutions that 
should still be considered, such as manual mail-handling procedures to 
presort nonanonymous mail to reduce the volume that would require 
higher tech irradiation techniques. 

* New high-tech explosive detection systems can be used to detect bulk 
or trace explosives concealed in, on, or under vehicles, containers, 
packages, and persons. However, dogs are also an effective and time-
proven tool for detecting concealed explosives. The dogs currently 
used by Defense, for example, can detect nine different types of 
explosive materials. And since dogs have the advantage of being mobile 
and able to follow a scent to its source, they have the significant 
advantage over mechanical explosive detection systems in any 
application that involves a search. 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Security dogs may be more cost effective and easier to deploy than new 
high tech explosive detection systems. 

[End of figure] 

Mechanisms Needed To Effectively Respond To Challenges: 

What Needs to Be Done? 

* Apply risk management principles to identify assets that need to be 
protected to maintain continuity of operations, as well as threats, 
vulnerabilities, risks, priorities, and countermeasures. 

* Use this understanding to develop a blueprint, or architectural 
construct, that defines the information, technologies, and approaches 
necessary to perform the homeland mission. 

* Assign responsibilities among the stakeholders so that everyone is 
not doing the same thing, but instead all are doing something slightly 
different that together forms a more effective shield. 

* Establish analytical and warning capabilities. 

* Create performance goals and metrics, and feedback and 
accountability mechanisms, so that efficacy of investments and efforts 
may be measured and programs continually improved. 

The overriding challenge for homeland security, of course, is how to 
prevent, detect, and respond to attacks. Technology and information 
are critical enablers, but they are not the sole answer. Significant 
issues involving people and approaches also need to be dealt with. For 
example, people—the majority of whom will never witness a terrorist 
event–will be required to be able to sense relevant minute changes 
from normal activity that could alert them to the possibility of a 
threat. They will also be required to work together to implement 
policies, processes, and procedures that serve as countermeasures to 
identified risks. To do so effectively, they will need information 
about what additional concrete things they must do when new threat 
information becomes available. In addition, because there are 
thousands of individuals and organizations involved in detecting, 
preventing, and responding to attacks and numerous projects being 
initiated, measures need to be taken to prevent redundancy and 
inefficiency in homeland security efforts. 

To be truly effective, however, the homeland security strategy needs 
to go beyond promoting redundancy and efficiency to finding innovative 
approaches to homeland security activities—ones that fully optimize 
skills, capabilities, and available resources. The asymmetrical threat 
we face demands that we act in accordance with the Marines' operation 
motto: "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome." In fact, expeditionary forces 
within the military provide a good example of how we can find new 
approaches by capitalizing on technology, skills and capabilities, and 
flexibility. These are forces that are designed, trained, and 
organized in a fashion very different from that of conventional 
forces, which previously relied on highly structured and standardized 
approaches to war-fighting and require considerable infrastructure in 
their deployments. In the Navy and the Marine Corps, for instance, 
expeditionary forces have the ability to go rapidly and easily to 
places where there is no infrastructure to operate on their arrival 
because they carry their infrastructure in the holds of ships and on 
their back. The forces are trained to be self-reliant, self-
sustaining, highly adaptable, and adept in the most austere 
environments. Because they are uniquely positioned and organized to 
accomplish a wide range of missions, including long-range strike 
operations and early forcible entry to facilitate or enable the 
arrival of follow-on forces, they have been used in a wide range of 
missions for decades. 

Starting Points: 

There are some very good starting points for addressing all of these 
challenges as well as the need to integrate solutions to information-
sharing and technology problems. These include applying risk 
management principles to identifying security priorities and 
implementing appropriate solutions; developing an architecture for 
homeland security; developing analytical and warning capabilities; and 
establishing goals and performance measures and accountability 

Risk Management Principles: 

Risk management principles should be applied to analyze and identify 
assets that need to be protected to maintain the continuity of 
critical operations, as well as threats, vulnerabilities, risks, 
priorities, and countermeasures. It may seem ideal to employ extreme 
security measures that cover every risk imaginable. But the reality is 
that this cannot be done, either because doing so could disrupt 
operations and adversely affect the safety of citizens or the 
economics of our businesses, or merely be impractical from a resources 
standpoint. Our previous reports on homeland security and information 
systems security, have shown that risk management principles can 
provide a sound foundation in identifying security priorities and 
implementing appropriate solutions.[Footnote 13] These principles, 
which have been followed by members of the intelligence and defense 
community for many years, can be reduced to five basic steps that help 
to determine responses to five essential questions: 

1. What are we protecting? 
Identify assets critical to continuity of operations. 

2. Who are our adversaries? 
Identify threats. 

3. How are we vulnerable? 
Identify vulnerabilities. 

4. What are our priorities? 
Assess risks & determine priorities. 

5. What can we do? 
Identify countermeasures. 

The first step in risk management is to identify assets that must be 
protected to maintain continuity of critical operations and the impact 
of their potential loss. The second step is to identify and 
characterize the threat to these assets. Is the threat, for example, 
that unauthorized individuals can gain access to the building to 
commit some crime, or more menacing, that a terrorist will introduce a 
chemical/biological agent or even a nuclear device into the building. 
Step three involves identifying and characterizing vulnerabilities 
that would allow identified threats to be realized. In other words, 
what weaknesses can allow a security breach? In the fourth step, risk 
must be assessed and priorities determined for protecting assets. Risk 
assessment examines the potential for the loss or damage to an asset. 
Risk levels are established by assessing the impact of the loss or 
damage, threats to the asset, and vulnerabilities. The final step is 
to identify countermeasures to reduce or eliminate risks. In doing so, 
the advantages and benefits of these countermeasures must also be 
weighed against their disadvantages and costs. 

In prior reports, we have recommended that the federal government 
conduct multidisciplinary and analytically sound threat and risk 
assessments to define and prioritize requirements and properly focus 
programs and investments in combating terrorism.[Footnote 14] Without 
the benefits that these assessments provide, many agencies have been 
relying on worst-case chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear 
scenarios to generate countermeasures or establish their programs. By 
using these worst-case scenarios, the federal government is focusing 
on vulnerabilities (which are unlimited) rather than credible threats 
(which are limited). 

Homeland Security Architecture: 

The federal government should develop a blueprint, or architecture, 
that defines both the homeland security mission and the information, 
technologies, and approaches necessary to perform the mission in a way 
that is divorced from organizational parochialism and cultural 
differences. This would need to be based on the outcome of a risk 
assessment along with a good understanding of the roles and 
responsibilities of individuals involved in the homeland security 
mission. The Office of Homeland Security has acknowledged that an 
architecture is an important next step because it can help identify 
shortcomings and opportunities in current homeland-security-related 
operations and systems, such as duplicative, inconsistent, or missing 
information. Of course, while the federal government can develop the 
construct for homeland security, it will be up to state and local 
governments to carry it out, with a great deal of assistance from the 
private sector. 

Specifically, the architecture should describe homeland security 
operations in both (1) logical terms, such as interrelated processes 
and activities, information needs and flows, and work locations and 
users, and (2) technical terms, such as hardware, software, data, 
communications, and security attributes and performance standards. It 
should provide these perspectives both for the current or "as is" 
environment and for the target or "to be" environment as well as a 
transition plan for moving from the "as is" to the "to be" 
environment. A particularly critical function of an architecture for 
homeland security would be to establish protocols and standards for 
data collection to ensure that data being collected are usable and 
interoperable—and to tell people what they need to collect and monitor. 

Many organizations have successfully developed enterprise 
architectures, though on a much smaller scale, and have found that 
doing so promotes better planning and decisionmaking; prevents the 
building of redundant systems; facilitates the management of 
extensive, complex environments; improves communication and 
information sharing; focuses on the strategic use of emerging 
technologies; and achieves economies of scale by providing mechanisms 
for sharing services. Our experience with federal agencies has shown 
that managed properly, architectures can clarify and help optimize 
interdependencies and interrelationships between related enterprise 
operations and the underlying technology infrastructure and 
applications that support them. 

Readily available frameworks could be used in developing an 
architecture for homeland security. These include Defense's C4ISR 
Architecture Framework, the Department of Treasury's Enterprise 
Architecture Framework, and the Federal Enterprise Architecture 
Framework, published by the Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) 
Council. In addition, the CIO Council, Office of Management and 
Budget, and GAO have collaborated in producing guidance on the 
content, development, maintenance, and implementation of 
architectures. [Footnote 15] 

Analytical and Warning Capabilities: 

Analytical and warning capabilities should be developed to detect 
precursors to terrorist attacks so that advanced warnings can be 
issued and protective measures implemented. Since the 1990s, the 
national security community and the Congress have identified the need 
to establish analytical and warning capabilities to protect against 
strategic computer attacks against the nation's critical computer-
dependent infrastructures. Such capabilities involve (1) gathering and 
analyzing information for the purpose of detecting and reporting 
hostile or otherwise potentially damaging actions or intentions and 
(2) implementing a process for warning policymakers and allowing them 
time to determine the magnitude of the related risks. In April 2001, 
we reported on the National Infrastructure Protection Center's 
progress in developing such mechanisms for computer-based attacks and 
impediments, which include a lack of a generally accepted methodology 
for strategic analysis of cyber threats to infrastructures, inadequate 
data on infrastructure vulnerabilities, and a lack of needed staff and 
expertise.[Footnote 16] Similar approaches should be developed for 
other homeland security priorities. 

Goals and Performance Measures and Accountability Mechanisms: 

Goals and performance measures and accountability mechanisms should be 
established not only to guide the nation's preparedness efforts but to 
assess how well they are really working. The Congress has long 
recognized the need to objectively assess the results of federal 
programs. For the nation's preparedness programs, however, the 
outcomes of where the nation should be in terms of domestic 
preparedness have yet to be defined. Given the recent and proposed 
increases in preparedness funding as well as the need for real and 
meaningful improvements in preparedness, establishing clear goals and 
performance measures are critical to ensuring both a successful and 
fiscally responsible effort. As we testified earlier this year, 
without measurable objectives, policymakers would be deprived of the 
information they need to make rational resource allocations, and 
program managers would be prevented from measuring progress.[Footnote 
17] In our earlier testimony, we highlighted the recommendation of one 
expert with the Office of Homeland Security that the government should 
develop a new statistical index of preparedness, incorporating a range 
of different variables, such as quantitative measures for special 
equipment, training programs, and medicines, as well as professional 
subjective assessments of the quality of local response capabilities, 
infrastructure, plans, readiness, and performance in exercises. The 
index could go well beyond current rudimentary milestones of program 
implementation to capture indicators of how well a particular city or 
region could actually respond to a serious terrorist event. 

In conclusion, developing a comprehensive and sustainable homeland 
security strategy is a formidable, even unprecedented task. Because of 
the nature of the threat, the scope of the things that need to be done 
are seemingly endless. There are significant challenges on a variety 
of fronts, particularly in making sure that the right information gets 
to the right people at the right time and in making good use of 
technology. Moreover, any solution must be national in nature, not 
just a federal strategy, since over 80 percent of nation's 
infrastructure is privately owned, and state and local government are 
the front line defenders and responders in the fight against 
terrorism. While there are no quick fixes or "silver bullet" single 
solutions, there are good starting points for addressing specific 
areas of challenges as well as for weaving solutions together to 
develop an integrated framework for preventing, detecting, and 
responding to attacks. 

Even with these mechanisms in place, however, there will still be a 
need for strong leadership on the part of the federal government and 
the Congress not just to provide the resources, expertise, and 
training needed carry out the strategy, but to work through concerns 
and barriers, develop trust relationships, make sure things are 
working as they should, and most importantly, sustain national 
attention to the problem. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer 
any questions that you or members of the subcommittee may have. 

Contact And Acknowledgment: 

For further information, please contact Randall A.Yim at (202) 512-
6787. Individuals making key contributions to this testimony include 
Cristina Chaplain and Dave Powner. 

[End of section] 


Building Tools to Detect and Assess Terrorist Threats: 

Getting information to the right people at the right time is critical, 
but we also need an intelligent strategy to integrate the information. 
One way is to build baselines of normal activity and mechanisms that 
will enable us to effectively detect deviations or anomalies that 
would indicate threats and how serious they may be. 

First step: Use Existing Technology: 
Intrusion detections systems are already being used to protect 
critical computer networks. These systems are built based on data on 
normal use of system and network activity as well as known attack 
patterns. Deviations are discovered based on data from analyses of 
network packets, captured from network backbones or local area network 
segments, or data sources generated by the operating system or 
application software. 

Next step: Apply the Same Know-How to Protect Other Infrastructures
For example, security information systems can be built to assess 
threats to air travel. Data could be drawn from government watch lists 
and airline reservations systems. Deviations could be identified by 
matching names from reservation systems to government watch lists or 
by detecting unusual patterns in travel or reservations. 

The Challenge Ahead: 

Building systems to predict and detect deviations on larger scale, for 
example, to protect major cities. This will be an extremely complex 
and difficult endeavor. For starters, determining what is normal and 
abnormal activity relative to terrorist activity would be difficult 
because it would require developing an extensive body of knowledge—
beyond just intelligence information—to build a baseline for terrorist 
activity when the activity itself is elusive, fluid, and difficult to 

Technologies that can be used in this regard include geospatial 
digital information tools, including remote sensing and satellite 
imagery technology. 

Developing other new technologies needed to detect and protect people, 
buildings, and critical infrastructures from attack This includes: 

* Bioweapons- and low-level-radioactive-weapons-detection systems; 
* Disease surveillance systems; 
* Biometric devices, such as iris scans and facial recognition 
systems, facial recognition systems, and speaker verification systems. 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Iris scan technology is based on the unique characteristics of the 
eye's iris, the colored ring that surrounds the pupil. 

[End of figure] 

[End of section] 


[1] We plan to issue a report on the need to define the homeland 
security mission within the next month. 

[2] See Ray A. Williamson, "Information as Security: Remote Sensing, 
Transportation Lifelines and Homeland Security," Space Imaging, 
(May/June 2002). 

[3] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Critical Infrastructure 
Protection: Challenges to Building a Comprehensive Strategy for 
Information Sharing and Coordination, [hyperlink,], (Washington, D.C.: 
July 26, 2000). 

[4] XML is a flexible, nonproprietary set of standards for annotating 
or "tagging" information so that it can be transmitted over a network 
and readily interpreted by disparate systems. For more information on 
its potential use for electronic government initiatives, see U.S. 
General Accounting Office, Electronic Government: Challenges to 
Effective Adoption of the Extensible Markup Language, [hyperlink,], (Washington, D.C.: April 

[5] Intrusion detection systems used to protect computer networks are 
built based on data on normal use of system and network activity as 
well as known attack patterns. Deviations are discovered based on data 
from analyses of network packets, captured from network backbones or 
local area network segments, or data sources generated by the 
operating system or application software. 

[6] For more information about barriers to information sharing, see 
[hyperlink,] and U.S. 
General Accounting Office, Intellectual Property: Industry and Agency 
Concerns Over Intellectual Property Rights, [hyperlink,], (Washington, D.C.: May 10, 

[7] We reported in September 2001 that the usefulness of several of 
these systems is impaired both by CDC's untimely release of data and 
by gaps in the data collected. 

[8] See Joseph A. Engelbrecht Jr., "Global Security Will Drive Real-
Time Surveillance," Space Imaging, (May/June 2002). 

[9] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology: 
Enterprise Architecture Use across the Federal Government Can Be 
Improved, [hyperlink,], 
(Washington, D.C.: February 2002). 

[10] See U.S. General Accounting Office. National Preparedness: 
Technologies to Secure Federal Buildings, [hyperlink,], (Washington, D.C.: April 25, 

[11] See [hyperlink,]. 

[12] See [hyperlink,]. 

[13] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: A Risk 
Management Approach Can Guide Preparedness Efforts, [hyperlink,] (Oct. 31, 2001) and 
Information Security Management: Learning From Leading Organizations, 
[hyperlink,] (May 1998). 

[14] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Combating Terrorism: Selected 
Challenges and Related Recommendations, [hyperlink,], (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 20, 
2001); Homeland Security: Key Elements of a Risk Management Approach, 
[hyperlink,], (Washington, 
D.C.: Oct. 12, 2001); Combating Terrorism: Threat and Risk Assessments 
Can Help Prioritize and Target Program Investments, [hyperlink,], (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 
9, 1998) and Combating Terrorism: Need for Comprehensive Threat and 
Risk Assessments of Chemical and Biological Attack, [hyperlink,], (Washington, D.C.: 
Sept. 7, 1999). 

[15] See Chief Information Officer Council, A Practical Guide to 
Federal Enterprise Architecture, Version 1.0, (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 

[16] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Critical Infrastructure 
Protection: Significant Challenges in Developing National 
Capabilities, [hyperlink,], 
(Washington, D.C.: Apr. 25, 2001). 

[17] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Combating Terrorism: Critical 
Components of a National Strategy to Enhance State and Local 
Preparedness, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 25, 2002).