Title page for ETD etd-06092009-192958

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Smith, Sonny
URN etd-06092009-192958
Title Low Risk, High Threat, Open Access Security in a Post 9-11 World: A study of the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Protection Services
Degree PhD
Department Public Administration and Public Affairs
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Khademian, Anne Meredith Committee Chair
Murch, Randall Committee Member
Roberts, Patrick S. Committee Member
Wolfe, James F. Committee Member
  • security screening
  • public institutions
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • protection services
  • terrorism
  • open access
  • high threat
  • low risk
Date of Defense 2009-05-27
Availability unrestricted
The events of 9-11 resulted in a slew of policy, procedural, and organizational changes within many government departments as the U.S. government took many steps to enhance security to prevent future terrorist attacks. The emphasis on high threat targets by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other government agencies, such as the White House, the Capitol and Congressional office buildings, major infrastructure and facilities within US cities, airline travel, ports and economic supply chains has generated a great deal of debate and attention. There are however, targets that are considered low risk situated in high threat areas that also provide open access to the public for which security professionals are responsible that should not be overlooked during the War on Terror. The question is how low risk targets in high threat areas should be protected? What resource distribution makes sense? What practices should be applied to achieve security?

The purpose of this research is to look at one of these targets, the Smithsonian Institution and how the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Protection Services (SI OPS) responded to the terror attacks of 9-11 and the ongoing threat. Four factors will be examined: (1) the screening process, (2) the budget, (3) the security policy formulation process, and (4) training.

The study focus is based on data derived from semi-structured interviews and a review of SI documents. Examining post 9-11 security changes allows one to see how SI OPS has evolved in its attempt to meet both internal security demands and expectations against an external security concern. The findings reveal SI OPS initially underwent significant changes within the four factors in the three years following the attacks of 9-11. However, limited resources and manpower strains have played major roles in the subsequent decline in some of the factors after their initial increases.

Although a return to the security levels immediately following 9-11 may not be imminent, it is recommended that OPS management make stronger efforts to communicate with non-security managers and return to more stringent visitor screening procedures.

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