CISAC receives Department of Homeland Security contract for research on organizational learning for terrorism response

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a 15-month $1.65-million contract to the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford Institute for International Studies. CISAC's program will be run as part of a joint project with the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey.

CISAC co-director and professor of political science Scott D. Sagan and former co-director and professor emeritus (research) in the School of Engineering Michael M. May are the Stanford co-principal investigators of the new program.

CISAC's portion of the project entails a homeland security seminar and fellowship program, which will bring eight research fellows to campus in 2004-05. Fellows will join CISAC and other faculty to conduct research on some of the most daunting issues confronting the homeland security mission, such as how national and local agencies can learn to cooperate quickly and effectively and how they can learn from past emergencies, real and simulated. CISAC will undertake in-depth scholarly research that can help inform DHS efforts to improve the design and evaluation of future terrorism exercises of national and local response systems.

Scholars will study diverse approaches to learning--and failing to learn--from emergencies, including those of armed forces, medical emergency rooms, police and fire departments. Researchers will also investigate how government organizations can stay ahead of potential attackers in the "competitive learning" situation that terrorism presents--one in which terrorists and law enforcement officials alike try to learn from vulnerabilities exposed in public emergencies.

The DHS research contract resulted in part from CISAC's observation of the spring 2003 State Department-DHS sponsored full-scale exercise called TOP OFFICIALS-2 (TOPOFF-2), designed to prepare national, state and local officials to respond to potential terrorist attacks within the US. CISAC led 11 Stanford scholars in observing and analyzing the exercise involving officials from 25 federal, state, and local agencies. DHS Secretary Tom Ridge received a briefing of CISAC's findings, prepared under May's direction as principal investigator.

Lynn Eden, CISAC associate director for research, will manage Stanford's participation in the new project and mentor the homeland security fellows. Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, assistant professor of law at Stanford, will contribute research on how judicial review processes affect responses to terrorism. Dean Wilkening, director of CISAC's science program, will model uncertainties in biological weapons use, such as effects caused by different exposure rates and different doses of contaminants like anthrax.

The Organizational Learning and Homeland Security fellows chosen for 2004-2005 are Charles Perrow, professor emeritus of sociology at Yale; Marc Ventresca, university lecturer in strategy and fellow at Wolfson College in Oxford's Said Business School and visiting associate professor of organizations and strategy, Graduate School of Management at the University of California-Irvine; Michael Kenney, assistant professor at the School of Public Affairs at Penn State University-Harrisburg; Laura K. Donohue, Ph.D., history, Cambridge University and student at Stanford School of Law; Tonya L. Putnam, J.D., Harvard Law School and Ph.D. student in political science at Stanford; Manas Baveja, a graduate student in the Scientific Computing and computational Mathematics Program in Stanford's School of Engineering and Dara K. Cohen and Jacob N. Shapiro, graduate students in political science at Stanford.