Homeland Security:

A Framework for Addressing the Nation's Efforts

GAO-01-1158T: Published: Sep 21, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 21, 2001.

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Raymond J. Decker
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The United States now faces increasingly diverse threats that put great destructive power into the hands of small states, groups, and individuals. These threats range from cyber attacks on critical infrastructure to terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction or infectious diseases. Efforts to combat this threat will involve federal agencies as well as state and local governments, the private sector, and private citizens. GAO believes that the federal government must address three fundamental needs. First, the government needs clearly defined and effective leadership with a clear vision carry out and implement a homeland security strategy and the ability to marshal the necessary resources to get the job done. Second, a national homeland security strategy should be based on a comprehensive assessment of national threats and risks. Third, the many organizations that will be involved in homeland security must have clearly articulated roles, responsibilities, and accountability mechanisms. Any strategy for homeland security must reduce risk where possible, assess the nation's vulnerabilities, and identify the critical infrastructure most in need of protection. To be comprehensive, the strategy should include steps to use intelligence assets or other means to identify attackers and prevent attacks before they occur, harden potential targets to minimize the damage from an attack, and effectively manage the consequences of an incident.

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