Skip to main content
Consensus Study Report


The mission of Department of Homeland Security Bioterrorism Risk Assessment: A Call for Change, the book published in December 2008, is to independently and scientifically review the methodology that led to the 2006 Department of Homeland Security report, Bioterrorism Risk Assessment (BTRA) and provide a foundation for future updates.

This book identifies a number of fundamental concerns with the BTRA of 2006, ranging from mathematical and statistical mistakes that have corrupted results, to unnecessarily complicated probability models and models with fidelity far exceeding existing data, to more basic questions about how terrorist behavior should be modeled.

Rather than merely criticizing what was done in the BTRA of 2006, this new NRC book consults outside experts and collects a number of proposed alternatives that could improve DHS's ability to assess potential terrorist behavior as a key element of risk-informed decision making, and it explains these alternatives in the specific context of the BTRA and the bioterrorism threat.

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2008. Department of Homeland Security Bioterrorism Risk Assessment: A Call for Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Import this citation to:

Publication Info

172 pages |  8.5 x 11 | 

  • Paperback:  978-0-309-12028-9
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-18574-5
Chapters skim
Front Matter i-xiv
Summary 1-5
1 Introduction 6-10
2 The Critical Contribution of Risk Analysis to Risk Management and Reduction of Bioterrorism Risk 11-19
3 Description and Analysis of the Department of Homeland Security's Biological Threat Risk Assessment of 2006 20-33
4 Department of Homeland Security Decision Requirements for Risk Management 34-41
5 Risk Assessment for Unknown and Engineered Biothreat Agents 42-46
6 Improving Bioterrorism Consequence Assessment 47-50
7 Improving the Department of Homeland Security's Biological Threat Risk Assessment and Adding Risk Management 51-60
Appendix A: Lexicon 61-77
Appendix B: Mathematical Characterization of the Biological Threat Risk Assessment Event Tree and Risk Assessment 78-79
Appendix C: Computational Example Illustrating the Replacement of a Joint Distribution of Arc Probabilities with Marginal Expected Values of Individual Arc Probabilities 80-84
Appendix D: Bioterrorism Risk Analysis with Decision Trees 85-89
Appendix E: Optimizing Department of Homeland Security Defense Investments: Applying Defender-Attacker (-Defender) Optimization to Terror Risk Assessment and Mitigation 90-102
Appendix F: Combining Game Theory and Risk Analysis in Counterterrorism: A Smallpox Example 103-110
Appendix G: On the Quantification of Uncertainty and Enhancing Probabilistic Risk Analysis 111-115
Appendix H: Game Theory and Interdependencies 116-121
Appendix I: Review of BTRA Modeling 122-125
Appendix J: Reprinted Interim Report 126-148
Appendix K: Meeting Agendas 149-152
Appendix L: Biographies of Committee Members 153-156
Appendix M: Acronyms 157-158

What is skim?

The Chapter Skim search tool presents what we've algorithmically identified as the most significant single chunk of text within every page in the chapter. You may select key terms to highlight them within pages of each chapter.

Copyright Information

The National Academies Press (NAP) has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's Marketplace service to offer you a variety of options for reusing NAP content. Through Marketplace, you may request permission to reprint NAP content in another publication, course pack, secure website, or other media. Marketplace allows you to instantly obtain permission, pay related fees, and print a license directly from the NAP website. The complete terms and conditions of your reuse license can be found in the license agreement that will be made available to you during the online order process. To request permission through Marketplace you are required to create an account by filling out a simple online form. The following list describes license reuses offered by the NAP through Marketplace:

  • Republish text, tables, figures, or images in print
  • Post on a secure Intranet/Extranet website
  • Use in a PowerPoint Presentation
  • Distribute via CD-ROM
  • Photocopy

Click here to obtain permission for the above reuses. If you have questions or comments concerning the Marketplace service, please contact:

Marketplace Support
International +1.978.646.2600
US Toll Free +1.855.239.3415

To request permission to distribute a PDF, please contact our Customer Service Department at

loading iconLoading stats for Department of Homeland Security Bioterrorism Risk Assessment: A Call for Change...