University of Southern California

Risk Management / Operations Research

Risk Management plays a central role in DHS strategic planning. DHS has a long tradition of risk management but requires new analytic methods to address contemporary homeland security issues across multiple threat domains. The application of analytic methods to improve decision-making is the domain of Operations Research. CREATE combines Risk Management and Operations Research to develop new methods to address three key analytical challenges. First, many problems that DHS programs are intended to solve involve adversarial competitions. This means that DHS must consider the benefits of its programs against both current risks and anticipated shifts in risks as new threats emerge of different types and in different places. Second, because this dynamic threat environment creates many types of risk in many places, it is not appropriate to evaluate security programs in isolation. Instead, DHS programs must be evaluated within the context of how they contribute to a risk management system designed to achieve multiple goals. Third, though risk management systems are designed to counter many types of threats, it is challenging for DHS to prevent adversaries from succeeding in all scenarios. Thus, an important aspect of risk management across DHS is the systematic incorporation of means of deterrence and dissuasion to influence adversary decisions so terrorists act in ways that are easier to detect, more difficult for them to succeed, or have easier consequence to accept.

The primary goal of this theme is to use Operations Research approaches to improve the understanding of valuation of security benefits across threat domains, the development, evaluation and integration of risk management and resource allocation applications in collaboration with DHS partners, and ultimately, to enable better, faster, more focused policy- and decision-making.

Current Investigators

This research theme is led by Henry Willis, and the contributing investigators include:

Previous Investigators