Reports & Papers

1485 Items

Paper - Recanati-Kaplan Fellowship Series

By Any Means Necessary

| May 2017

This paper explores the Intelligence Community’s (IC) support to domestic security and examines the impact of this support on privacy and civil liberties. Specifically, the author examines the origin and evolution of privacy concepts in the United States, reviews historical examples where privacy collided with national security, apprise readers of IC and law enforcement cooperation, iterate advances in technology that have privacy implications, surveys current U.S. government intelligence oversight procedures, and offers thought experiments to develop recommendations for consideration by U.S. policy-makers.

Paper - Cyber Security Project, Belfer Center

Too Connected to Fail

| May 2017

This paper argues that threats to core internet infrastructure and services can, in fact, rise to the level of a serious national security threat to the United States and will explore scenarios where this may be the case. The paper will discuss several kinds of core internet services and infrastructure and explore the challenges with understanding interdependencies between the internet and critical infrastructure; review recent attack techniques that can cause systemic risk to the internet; discuss various nation state capabilities, intentions and recent activities in this area; and describe how these attacks could be used against the United States to deter the U.S., control escalation, or potentially degrade U.S. warfighting capabilities in a conflict. Finally, the paper concludes with recommendations for what the United States and other governments can do to build defenses and resiliency against systemic threats to the internet.

Report - Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

The Netherlands Cyber Readiness at a Glance

| May 2017

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (PIPS) and the Dutch Government are pleased to announce the release of The Netherlands Cyber Readiness at a Glance, the latest study in a series of country reports assessing national-level preparedness for cyber risks based on the Cyber Readiness Index (CRI) 2.0 methodology. This report provides the most in-depth analysis to date of the Netherlands' current cyber security posture and its efforts to strengthen the country's security and resilience in the face of emerging ICT threats.

Paper - Centre for International Governance Innovation

Getting beyond Norms: When Violating the Agreement Becomes Customary Practice

| Apr. 20, 2017

This paper offers five standards of care that can be used to test individual states' true commitment to the international norms of behaviour. Only with a concerted and coordinated effort across the global community will it be possible to change the new normal of "anything goes" and move forward to ensure the future safety and security of the Internet and Internet-based infrastructures.

Electric cars sit charging in a parking garage at the University of California, Irvine, January 26, 2015.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

American Energy Policy

| April 2017

When the country faces a major threat, a dedicated minority recognizes it and lobbies hard for strong actions to address it.  Stakeholders with powerful vested interests in the status quo lobby just as hard (sometimes harder) to block the proposed actions. In many cases, the advocates for change never get past this stage.

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An Assesment of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act

  • Alexis Masterson
| Mar. 24, 2017


The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the entity tasked with coordinating the U.S. Federal Government’s role in preventing and responding to disasters. One of its major duties is to obligate federal recovery funds to individuals and communities through the Individual Assistance and Public Assistance grant programs. The process for awarding these grants has historically been periodically reviewed and revised, and most recently major changes were made in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (SRIA), signed on January 29, 2013, sought to use lessons learned from the historic storm to guide statutory changes that would lead to more effective and timely responses to future disasters. The Act’s main goals were to “[reduce] the costs to the Federal Government,” “[increase] flexibility” and “[expedite] the provision” of assistance, and “[provide] financial incentives …for the timely and cost-effective completion of projects,” (SRIA Sec. 1102). SRIA’s provisions are guided by the understanding that FEMA’s ultimate mission is to help victims of disasters, and that consequently any procedural changes should be crafted with the aim of helping applicants.

The purpose of this analysis is to assess whether SRIA successfully improved the process by which FEMA obligates Public Assistance awards. “Improvement” is defined here by three metrics: the average federal share of an award; the average number of project worksheets per applicant per disaster; and the number of days between a disaster declaration and when an award is obligated. An increase in federal share, and a reduction in the number of projects and number of days elapsed would all be evidence that SRIA has had its desired impact on the targeted population.

SRIA’s impact on these three measures was established through multiple linear regressions. SRIA was found to have successfully increased the average federal share awarded to state, local, and tribal governments by 40%, and to have reduced the average number of projects per applicant by 6%. The Act was also, however, associated with an unintended 4.8% increase in the average number of days it took to obligate an award.

Having established that SRIA did not accomplish one of its goals of expediting assistance to victims, I recommend that FEMA conduct an inquiry into where in the obligation process a delay has emerged. Based on SRIA’s specific provisions, I theorize that the increased threshold for small projects and the ability to bundle projects from different categories of work are most likely responsible for slowing down the obligation process, and are prime areas for further analysis using FEMA’s internal data.

 A view of the Yuxi River and suburban towns near Yulin in Shanxi Province.

CNES/Astrium, Digitalglobe. Used with Permission.

Paper - Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center

Low-Carbon Revolution in China

| March 2017

As a vast country with a huge population, insufficient natural resources (as measured on a per capita level), fragile eco-systems, and sophisticated climate patterns, China is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on many fronts. These fronts include: national economic security, energy security, ecological security, food security, human health, and socioeconomic development. Low-carbon economic growth and actions to slow the rate of climate change are required for sustainable development and the protection of fragile ecosystems. They also bring significant opportunities for economic restructuring, growth mode transformation, and a new type of industrialization. 

Report Cover


Report Chapter - Center for Strategic & International Studies

Deterring Iran After the Nuclear Deal

| March 2017

A Senior Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official described a war in cyberspace as "more dangerous than a physical war." This statement was likely made in 2012, in response to a wave of publicly reported cyber operations against Iran, including Stuxnet, Duqu, and Flame. Since these operations, Iran has expanded the role of cyber capabilities in its broader national security strategy. Cyber Security Project Director Michael Sulmeyer assesses the role of cyber tools in Iran's broader strategy.

Institute of Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing's Haidian District


Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Case Study of a World-Class Research Project Accomplished in China: Lessons for China's Science Policy

| February 2017

It has long been a great Chinese ambition to have a high impact toplevel scientific research conducted in domestic China. In this paper, we provide a case study of the recent discovery of the Quantum Anomalous Hall Effect by the group led by Prof. Qikun Xue at Tsinghua University. We analyze the entire experimental discovery process, explore the research culture developed in this condensed matter and materials physics research group, examine China's funding environment and investigate the functioning of this multi-group collaboration. Lessons from this case study will shed lights on how to foster high impact world-class research institutions in China.