How To Understand the Homeland Security Report Card

The Homeland Security Report Card is a tool that provides a snapshot of the overall preparedness of the United States to respond to various crises.  It was developed as a means to focus attention on domestic issues of national security.  In the wake of the September 11th attacks there was a sense that more needed to be done to assure the safety of the population from both man-made destruction and natural disasters.

The report card is an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses the United States possesses with regard to its ability to respond to terrorist threats both externally and internally and its readiness to respond to natural disasters.  The data is organized into 7 major categories and divided further into 28 subcategories.  The analysis is then displayed in the form of a report card that looks very similar to one sent home to a parent from a school.

Each of the main sections of the report card is given a portion of the total 35 available points.  The more critical the section is to national security, the more individual points are allocated to that section.  For example, the “Gathering Intelligence and Analysis” section is given 8 possible points of the total 35.  The “Controlling National Borders” section is given only 6 of the total points possible.  Therefore, gathering intelligence is considered slightly more important than protecting the boarder.

Each of the broader sections of the Homeland Security Report Card is divided further into subsections or subcategories that are smaller portions or functions of the larger category.  For example, “Passenger Security” is a portion of the major category “Protecting Critical Facilities”.  These smaller subcategories are each given a portion of the points available for their major category.

The grading method used is the same as that employed by countless school teachers and administrators.  The system is called a weighted average on a four- point scale. A maximum of 35 points can be awarded. If all 35 points are awarded the nation scores a 100%.

All categories on the card are then given a letter grade that corresponding to their place on a standard four-point academic grading system. A grade of 4.00 equals 100%.  Each minus or plus on the letter-grade scale corresponds to an addition or subtraction of a third of a point on the four-point scale.  Fore example, a B is equivalent to a range of 3.00 to 3.32.  A grade of B+ is 3.33 to 3.66.

When these calculations are completed the scores are displayed in the form of a familiar report card.  The use of the letter grade system to create a Homeland Security Report Card allows the average citizen an opportunity to decide where the administration should focus its efforts to improve our national security.


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