Risk Management in Justice and Security Organizations

The United States security landscape is very complex and filled with dynamic interests, incentives, and requirements that require effective management to achieve national objectives. The security, resilience, and safety of the United States are threatened by various hazards including pandemics, natural disasters, acts of terrorism, cyber crime, and manmade accidents (Department of Homeland Security [DHS], 2011). At the same time, government security and justice agencies must manage the risks associated with project costs, procurement, and workforce management (Martin & Reiss, 2008). Risk management (RM) is a systematic and analytical process that establishes the likelihood that a threat can harm individuals or assets. In the same line, RM entails the identification of actions that minimize and mitigate the impact of an event or attack. The underlying principles of RM acknowledge that, as much risk cannot be eliminated completely, enhancing protection from familiar or potential threats can minimize it. For this reason, there is a need to perform a detailed risk analysis and plan for risk using the available resources (Broder & Tucker, 2012). As described in the following sections, RM is beneficial to critical infrastructural assets and individuals. This paper discusses the role and nature as well as importance of RM in justice and security organizations.

Planning for Risk and Identifying Resources

Risk planning is conceptualized as a process of evaluating and allocating resource for RM. As an opening first phase of RM, firms security and justice organizations can use risk assessment plans to establish the extents of potential threats and risks throughout their implementation process. While planning for risk, the scope of the RM project is defined by establishing the boundaries of the project with its constituent resources. The planning information encompasses systems support staff, financial allocations, and the objectives of the RM plan. Correctional facilities use formal and effective RM plans that employ their basic resources including financial, human, and partner (Martin & Reiss, 2008). The information relevant to planning can be collected using techniques or tools such as interviews, document reviews, and questionnaires. The planning data is used to inform resource allocation.


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How Justice and Security Organizations Manage Risk

The fundamental role of the national government is to protect the United States from both inland and external threats. It follows that the government must deter or prevent attacks as well as detect impending danger prior to their occurrence (Broder & Tucker, 2012). To improve and promote the resilience, security, and safety of the Department of Justice and its related agencies including DHS and the FBI, leaders within these organizations identify, understand, and develop approaches to prevent, protect control, and mitigate risks.

First, Justice and Security organizations acknowledge that risk in inherence in every activity or critical infrastructure and cannot be completely eliminated (DHS, 2011; Martin & Reiss, 2008). The success of RM process in these entities depends on the collaboration and connection of information about threats, activities, and capabilities. The collected information is then used to guide prevention, protection, recovery, and response. The U.S. Government employs multi-agency task forces encompassing local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to develop approaches that prevent or mitigate an array of threats to the partnering agencies and the nation. Additionally, local police agencies are required to provide information to key Security and Justice Organizations. Cooperation between various levels of government in law enforcement also supports the management of risks. For instance, the Department of Justice, particularly the FBI, performs a threat and other security assessment at the national level as an integral part of national RM approach. Additionally, the Department of Defense takes department-oriented steps to enhance its RM strategy through proper assessment of vulnerabilities, criticality, and threats.

Costs Associated with Managing Risks

DHS (2011) defined RM as a process of identifying and analyzing risk as well as avoiding or mitigating to acceptable levels considering the cost and benefits of the actions taken. From the definition, it is evident that managing risks is a costly undertaking. It is worth noting that RM is a continuous process, and similarly to any other organizational or national undertaking incurs costs in terms of human resources, time, etc. To stay relevant and meet the dynamics of organizational or customers’ requirements and interest, organizations should conduct regular training of workforce. Training and development programs are the financial costs that must be met within the shortest time possible. Additionally, RM comes with the need to procure equipment, tools, and software. Further, organizations need to update their RM or mitigation plans as new threats are identified.

Consequences of Failing to Manage Risk

The current world is uncertain and dynamic in the sense that the past does not necessarily guide the future. Additionally, critical infrastructure and systems that provide a vital function for the nation to thrive have increasingly become interconnected and intricate. The fact that potential risks or disruptions to the critical infrastructures and key government functions are not well understood implies that disruptions can have a large and unprotected cascading negative impact across the country (DHS, 2011). In other words, the failure to manage risk can have a detrimental effect on the social, economic, and political aspects of the American society. The complexity of this negative impact is compounded by the fact that trends such as global climate change, technological advancements, and asymmetric threats have the potential to alter the United States’ security environment in unanticipated ways. Apart from holding perils, such disruptive trends also hold promise (Gallangher, 2003). For this reason, they should be understood and managed, because perils and benefits coexist. If the DOJ, particularly correctional facilities, fail to manage risk, the entire American society will potentially be subject to detrimental consequences including injury to jail staff and inmates, inmate escape, liability and litigation cost, damage to correctional facilities, and increased likelihood of repeating crimes (Martin & Reiss, 2008).

The Benefits of a Properly Performed Risk Analysis for Management and Key Stakeholders

The benefits of risk analysis are significant and self-reinforcing. These include enhancement and preservation of resources, enhanced ability to achieve organizational goals, avoidance of liabilities, decrease in the cost repair and replacement, avoidance of extra expense or revenue interruption, and preservation of a favorable public perception. Observably, a well-performed risk analysis will help stakeholders protect and enhance their interests, conserve the available resources as well as aid in avoiding or mitigating the impact of the unknown or emerging risks (DHS, 2011; Martin & Reiss, 2008). RM is beneficial not only for the security of various entities but is also important for their well-being. From an economic standpoint, the risk is the uncertainty of financial position or the variation between the actual and the projected results.

RM is beneficial in the sense that it can lessen or mitigate the unexpected deviation from normal results (Gallangher, 2003). At the organizational level, the results of a properly conducted risk analysis and the implementation of RM will augment and complement operation and strategic planning efforts, budget formulation, policy development, performance evaluation, and reporting processes. Effective risk analysis and management do not preclude adverse event from materializing; however, it enables organizational and national security efforts to concentrate on the risk that are likely to result in the greatest harm by employing strategies or alternatives that are likely to prevent or mitigate such incidents (Broder & Tucker, 2012). Most importantly, American citizens, resources, and the national economy are strengthened and made more robust by communicating, forecasting, and getting ready for both internal and outside hazards through careful and extensive risk analysis as well as management.

According to Martin and Reiss (2008), effective RM in the justice system can lead to positive consequences including substance and drug abuse programs (Chandler, Fletcher, & Volkow, 2009), vocational program, and educational programs designed to help developed essential skills and overcome life challenges (Drake, Aos, & Miller, 2009). These transformative programs require an analyzed risk taking. If correctional facilities manage the induced risks, inmates are likely to leave prison as skilled and better citizens than before. The other benefits of effective risk analysis and management include conservation of scarce resources, reduction in staff turnover, and optimal use of work time (Martin & Reiss, 2008).


The current dynamic and uncertain world presents an array of security risks. Additionally, the agencies and systems that provided critical functions for the nation to thrive are increasingly interconnected and intricate. It is a role of the Department of Homeland Security and the other government agencies to understand and manage these risks. Assessing and implementing RM plans incur costs. RM is not an end to a means but a part of strategic organizational practices including planning, program evaluation, priority budget development, preparedness, and process improvement. The value of RM strategy or approach to management and the other stakeholders lies in the ability to implement the best alternative from a pool of choices. Therefore, establishing organizational culture and infrastructure to support the implementation of RM in Security and Justice Organizations is a critical requirement for achieving both organizational and national goals.

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