Survey Homeland Security Experts: Priorities for Next Administration

Over 83% expect major disaster/attack within next 4 years, next administration

22% expect WMD attack

54% say reorganize DHS

WASHINGTON , July 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Book Hill Partners and the Homeland Defense Journal released the results of a survey of 122 homeland security experts on priorities for the next administration in protecting the American people and homeland. The results of the survey were released at a Homeland Defense Journal-Book Hill Partners briefing held at the National Press Club.

"The purpose of the survey is to help set the priorities for homeland security as the next president and the next Congress take office," said Don Dickson , publisher of the Journal. "This will be the first time that any administration other than the Bush administration has taken charge of the Department of Homeland Security and its important responsibilities. As a result, this transition presents unique challenges," Dixon added.

"While the economy and Iraq are dominating the headlines and the campaign at this moment, we cannot lose sight of the critical importance of homeland security. Historically, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have exhibited a tendency to strike around election and transition years. It is vital that the next administration - be it President Obama or President McCain - be ready to defend our nation from the moment the oath of office is taken," said Rob Housman , a partner with Book Hill Partners.

The survey results reflect the views of 122 homeland security professionals, of which 36 percent had ten or more years and 32 percent had five or more years experience in the field. Respondents came principally from private sector homeland security professionals, federal, state and local homeland security officials, and the military.

Key findings of the survey include:

-- Over 83 percent of experts surveyed expected a major disaster of some kind in the United States within the next four years, within the term of the next president.

-- Roughly 58 percent of respondents said that the most probable scenario for a major disaster was a natural disaster. More surprisingly almost 22 percent of experts said that the most probable scenario for a major disaster was a terrorist attack with a weapon of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear specifically).

-- Almost 72 percent of respondents expect major changes if Sen. Obama is the next president. In contrast, over 80 percent of respondents believed that homeland security policies under a McCain administration would be largely unchanged from those under the Bush administration.

-- More than half of respondents (54 percent) said DHS should be maintained but reorganized; roughly 30 percent said the agency should be unchanged; and almost 15 percent said the agency should be split up.

-- The next administration's top four homeland security priorities should be border security, emergency response, development of medical counter-measures to weapons of mass destruction, and port security.

-- Respondents said the most important expertise and experience for the next secretary of DHS are: managerial experience; military experience; and critical infrastructure experience. Respondents also placed a priority on intelligence and state-level homeland security experience.

"The real value of this survey is the breadth and depth of expertise represented in the results," Dickson remarked. "We believe that this is the first such survey of homeland security experts, and it certainly is the first one looking at the direction for homeland security under the next administration," Housman said. "We hope that the results will inform and guide the policies of the next administration and Congress," Housman added.

SOURCE Book Hill Partners