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Highlights

From the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to Hurricane Katrina, homeland security risks vary widely. The nation can neither achieve total security nor afford to protect everything against all risks. Managing these risks is especially difficult in today's environment of globalization, increasing security interdependence, and growing fiscal challenges for the federal government. It is increasingly important that organizations effectively target homeland security funding--totaling nearly $65 billion in 2008 federal spending alone--to address the nation's most critical priorities. GAO convened a forum of experts on October 25, 2007, to advance a national dialogue on applying risk management to homeland security. Broadly defined, risk management is a process that helps policymakers assess risk, strategically allocate finite resources, and take actions under conditions of uncertainty. Participants included federal, state, and local officials and risk management experts from the private sector and academia. The forum addressed effective practices, challenges federal agencies face in applying risk management to homeland security, and actions that can strengthen homeland security risk management. Comments expressed during the proceedings do not necessarily represent the views of any one participant, the organizations they represent, or GAO. Participants reviewed a draft of this report and their comments were incorporated, as appropriate.

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