Friday, September 24, 2010

NRC [National Research Council] ON RISK ANALYSIS IN DHS

The refernced report below also posted as a baseline document is one of the most significant reports that has been issued giving a comprehensive analysis of the risk analysis process and problems in DHS. Unfortunately it concludes at one point on page 4 of the Summary Section the following:

          Natural Hazards Risk Analyses

"There is a solid foundation of data, models, and scholarship to underpin DHS’s risk analyses for natural hazards such as flooding. Although models are constantly being developed and improved, risk analysis associated with natural hazards is a mature activity—compared to risk analysis related to terrorism—in which analytical techniques are subject to adequate quality assurance and quality control, and verification and validation procedures are commonly used.

Conclusion: DHS’s risk analysis models for natural hazards are near the state of the art. These models—which are applied mostly to earthquake, flood, and hurricane hazards—are based on extensive data, have been validated empirically, and appear well suited to near-term decision

Recommendation: DHS’s current natural hazard risk analysis models, while adequate for near-term decisions, should evolve to support longer-term risk management and policy decisions. Improvements should be made to take into account the consequences of social disruption caused by natural hazards; address long-term systemic uncertainties, such as those arising from effects of climate change; incorporate diverse perceptions of risk impacts; support decision making at local and regional levels; and address the effects of cascading impacts across infrastructure sectors."

The overall conclusion of the report is that natural hazards risk analysis is ahead of terrorism risk analysis but that both could be improved. It is my belief that any close reading of the above discussion on natural hazards risk analysis shows the report to be internally in contradiction. I do know that few openly peer review natural hazards models have been adopted by DHS/FEMA and in many cases entire disciplines such as climatology, meteorology, seismology and other critical disciplines have been largely or complete ignored with DHS/FEMA. Then the recommendation to develop risk analysis of social disruption has to be the most ground breaking recommendation of the entirety of the report. Dr. Denis Milieti, PhD in his formulation of the so-called post disaster "Therapeutic Community" has spent a lifetime arguing successfully against such social disruption.  Well it will be of great interest to see how that recommendation or any of the others is received in DHS and FEMA. Good luck.
The report is linked also below.

Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Approach to RISK ANALYSIS
160 pages
Publication Year: 2010