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The Risk Communicator - Editor's Note

The Risk Communicator - Editor's Note
February 2013: Sequestration & Risk Management

The looming threat of sequestration -- automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that will slash $85 billion from the federal budget starting on March 1 -- is no longer just a theoretical threat. With less than one week to go before the cuts begin, homeland security professionals are planning for the worst.

If Congress fails to prevent the spending cuts, the Department of Homeland Security will be forced to find new, innovative ways to accomplish its broad mission while absorbing about $4 billion in cuts. And DHS is warning about significant practical impacts to security.

Sequestration will result in the loss of about 5,000 border patrol agents over the next year. At ports of entry, the department will be forced to implement 12 to 14 day furloughs of port officers.

In addition, the department can expect a seven-day furlough for airport security officers at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a 25 percent cut in surface operations at the US Coast Guard and a loss of more than $1 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

State and local law enforcement would see more than $120 million in cuts to state and local homeland security grants. They also would lose more than $100 million in law enforcement grants from the Justice Department.

If sequestration does happen and if all of the dire predictions are accurate, then all Americans will get an up-close and personal look at what risk management is really all about. Choices will have to be made. And while many will find those choices hard to accept, we have to remember that the process of making tough choices is the essence of managing risk.

Perhaps it is time for the security and risk management community to educate Congress on the basics of risk management and to remind our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle of their responsibilities.

Dan Verton
Editor, The Risk Communicator



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