Established in March 2002, the Homeland Security Advisory System was designed to disseminate information on the risk of terrorist acts to federal agencies, states, localities, and the public. However, these entities have raised questions about the threat information they receive from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the costs they incurred as a result of responding to heightened alerts. This report examines (1) the decision making process for changing the advisory system national threat level; (2) information sharing with federal agencies, states, and localities, including the applicability of risk communication principles; (3) protective measures federal agencies, states, and localities implemented during high (codeorange) alert periods; (4) costs federal agencies reported for those periods; and (5) state and local cost information collected by DHS.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection||1. The Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection to document communication protocols for notifying federal agencies and states of changes in the national threat level and for providing guidance and threat information to these entities, including methods and time periods for sharing information, to better manage these entities' expectations regarding the methods, timing, and content of information shared.|
|Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection||2. The Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection to incorporate risk communication principles into the Homeland Security Advisory System to assist in determining and documenting information to provide to federal agencies and states, including, to the extent possible, information on the nature, location, and time periods of threats and guidance on protective measures to take in response to those threats.|