Debra Decker

Senior Advisor

Debra Decker is a Senior Advisor at the Stimson Center. She has more than 20 years of experience developing policies and managing processes in the private and public sectors and is a subject matter expert in the field of risk management.

Decker is also president of Decker Advisors, LLC, a firm she recently established to focus on framing complex national security problems in innovative ways and engaging stakeholders to develop efficient solutions. Prior to this, Decker was with Booz Allen Hamilton. She has advised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security on strategy and risk and has specialized in the threats stemming from weapons of mass destruction and in the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure. As a researcher, Decker was an associate of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Her research has been featured at the World Economic Forum and to Congress.

She is a member of the Society for Risk Analysis, the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the 2013 ASIS Technical Advisory Committee for developing a national risk assessment standard. She currently serves on the boards of the Washington Foreign Law Society and of TexProtects, which works against child abuse and neglect in Texas.

Decker holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a B.A. from American University.

Select Publications and Presentations 

Using Insurance to Address Terrorism Risk (Stimson Spotlight, December 10, 2014)

Breaking the Impasse on Terror Insurance (The Hill, November 25, 2014)

Government Can’t Do It All, But the Public Can Help (Government Executive, January 14, 2014)

A Win-Win for Government and Insurers: Partnering for Security (Carrier Management, October 9, 2013)

A Fuller Accounting (Huffington Post, December 6, 2012)

Before the First Bomb Goes Off: Developing Nuclear Attribution Standards and Policies (Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 2011)

Risk of What? Using ERM [Enterprise Risk Management] to Consider National Interests (Presentation to Society for Risk Analysis, 2009)

What It Takes to Change Government (Booz Allen Hamilton Strategy Team, 2009) 

Before Disaster Strikes: Rate and Raise Public Preparedness Now (Policy Brief, Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 2009

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Policy Paper
Prioritizing Actions for Managing Cybersecurity Risks

Since the time of that report, FMWG and Stimson have been working with expert stakeholders to further assess those risks, to consider new emerging risks, and to prioritize actions needed to better manage them. New approaches are needed to confront the…

Report
Nuclear Cybersecurity: Risks and Remedies

The Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), in partnership with the Stimson Center, hosted a 1.5-day off-the record (Chatham House Rule) Nuclear-Cybersecurity Workshop, which took place at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. The in…

Policy Paper
Cyber Risks Go Nuclear

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned this spring that Russia had infiltrated critical US infrastructure, targeting nuclear and other power plants, along with homes and businesses. UK officials joined in the warning, noting the attacks we…

Op-Ed
Debra Decker Op-Ed on U.S. Russia Cooperation

  U.S. President Donald Trump is hellbent on engagement with Russia, so engagement is going to continue to occur. The question is at what level and on what topics that engagement will be. Read the full article here

Commentary
What the U.S. can do now to protect against Russian cyber warfare advances

The Russians are not coming, they are here. And they’re poised for new age warfare that uses weapons of mass disruption rather than destruction.  This goes beyond any dispute about Russia trying to sway our elections or possibly using ch…

Stimson in the News
Russia Cyber Warfare Will Get Worse

  US critical infrastructure is under attack – and the targets go beyond our democratic electoral system. The US government in an announcement on March 15 confirmed that the Russians were the most recent perpetrators of sustained attempts to penet…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker Op-Ed on Cybersecurity

  Read the full article here

Press Release
Amid Evolving Risks, Momentum to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism has Waned

  For Immediate Release November 7, 2017 Contact: Jim Baird; [email protected]; 202.478.3413 Global momentum has waned in efforts to prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear and radiological materials, according to a new report released toda…

Report
Re-Energizing Nuclear Security

Market competition, along with a trifecta of major nuclear incidents — Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima — have posed barriers to the growth and public acceptance of nuclear power. Liberalization of electricity energy markets has made nuclear…

Nuclear Security Governance Template

Every day, millions of people depend on the peaceful and responsible use of the atom. Most are not aware of the complex operations – including safety, safeguards, and security measures – that help ensure the proper control and facilitation of nuclear m…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker’s op-ed in The Cipher Brief on nuclear energy

While Iran and North Korea nuclear challenges capture the news, another nuclear front is unfolding – in nuclear energy. President Donald Trump, speaking last Thursday at the Department of Energy, called for several initiatives to propel “American…

Commentary
Rethinking US Nuclear Policy: Stable Energy vs. Security Risks

While Iran and North Korea nuclear challenges capture the news, another nuclear front is unfolding – in nuclear energy. President Donald Trump, speaking last Thursday at the Department of Energy, called for several initiatives to propel “American energ…

Issue Brief
So You Think Nuclear Plant Liabilities Are Covered?

Nuclear industry supporters are eager to allay public fears about the potential for another severe nuclear incident like Fukushima. A major issue is the possibility of extensive damaging consequences and compensation for those losses, with cyber being…

Policy Paper
Industry’s Potential Role in Implementing the CPPNM Amendment and Improving Nuclear Security

The long awaited Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) entered into force on 8 May 2016. The tension between State sovereignty and the need for clear international guidance and standards has made the nuclea…

Press Release
Student Essay Contest Winners Brief UN Officials at Harvard to Address WMD Threats

For Immediate Release: September 30, 2016 Contact: Jim Baird: [email protected]; (202) 478.3413   The Stimson Center announced today Enrique de Vega Gonzalez of Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia in Madrid, Spain, is…

UNSCR 1540 International Student Essay Contest

THE 2016 WINNERS ANNOUNCED  For the winning essays and commentary: Countering WMD Proliferation: The Next Generation’s Ideas  For highlights of the awards event, CLICK HERE. For the full event, CLICK HERE. And for pho…

Commentary
Nuclear Security Unplugged – Industry Leadership is Needed 


By Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut: The Attack
  Are nuclear facilities vulnerable to attack and sabotage? Perhaps more than you might think. The attackers knew what they needed – the nuclear plant’s instrumentation and control systems design…

Policy Paper
Security Economics – How Voluntary Standards Can Help

Paper Presented at the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting, June 2016, Atlanta, Georgia.

Commentary
Fresh Ideas Needed to Prevent WMD Proliferation

By Debra Decker: President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima last week was important for one very stark reason: It forces us to remember how devastating some weapons can be. We may have forgotten, or be too young to recall, the old fears of hiding under cramp…

Commentary
Before the next Chernobyl

Thirty years ago, on April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded, contaminating vast swaths of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia as well as several European countries. Radiation deaths are not pretty, and dozens of people died from…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker’s Op-ed in CNN on Nuclear Energy Security

Thirty years ago, on April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded, contaminating vast swaths of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia as well as several European countries. Read the full article here.

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker quoted in Voice of America on China and power reactors

-snip- “The United States is very grateful that China is participating,” said Debra Decker of the Washington-based Stimson Center. “China is going to be a leader in the international world market for power reactors, and they may be, probably in the nex…

Press Release
Stimson Center Experts Analyze President Obama’s Nuclear Legacy

For Immediate Release: April 4, 2016 Contact: Jim Baird; [email protected]; 202.478.3413 Experts from the nonpartisan Stimson Center analyze President Obama’s nuclear legacy in light of the conclusion of the final Nuclear Security Summit in Washin…

Stimson in the News
The Heat: Nuclear Security Summit

The Heat interviewed the following guests about Nuclear Security Summit: Matthew Cottee, a research associate focusing on non-proliferation and nuclear policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Tong Zhao, an associate with the Nuclea…

Commentary
Obama’s Nuclear Legacy

Experts from the nonpartisan Stimson Center analyze President Obama’s nuclear legacy in light of the conclusion of the final Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C. The summit  — which brought more than 50 world leaders to Washington…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker quoted in VOA on Nuclear Security Cooperation

华盛顿— 美国欢迎中国派国家元首出席本届核安全峰会,但是分析人士说,作为一个核大国,中国理应也有机会承担更大的责任推动甚至领导核安全领域的国际合作。 美国总统奥巴马周四和周五一连两天在华盛顿主办他明年卸任前的最后一届核安全高峰会。 Read the full article here. 

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker interviewed in The Takeaway on Nuclear Security

-snip- Debra Decker, Senior Advisor at The Stimson Center. She will be presenting at the Nuclear Security Summit today. She joins The Takeaway to discuss if the world would indeed be safer if more states like South Korea and Japan developed bombs…

Stimson in the News
Global security expert Debra Decker on Nuclear Security Summit

CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar interviewed Debra Decker, a senior advisor at The Stimson Center about the latest developments at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.  

Stimson in the News
Stopping Nuclear Terrorism

Debra Decker, Senior Advisor at The Stimson Center. She will be presenting at the Nuclear Security Summit today. She joins The Takeaway to discuss if the world would indeed be safer if more states like South Korea and Japan developed bombs to dete…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut quoted in People’s Daily on the Nuclear Security Summit

 3月31日至4月1日,第四届核安全峰会将在美国首都华盛顿举行,包括中国国家主席习近平在内的50多个国家和国际组织的领导人将应邀出席。   本届峰会主题为“加强国际核安全体系”。本报记者近日采访美国核能协会、美国史汀生中心和美国战略与国际问题研究中心相关专家时,他们对本次峰会的召开都充满期待,不约而同谈到中国领导人出席此次峰会,并期待中国在峰会上发挥更大作用。 Read more here.

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker quoted in Archer Energy Solutions on Cybersecurity

-snip- There are still issues of concern, said Debra Decker, one of the authors of the Stimson Center report. Read more here.

Commentary
Confronting the Risk of Nuclear Terrorism in Belgium and Beyond

The Belgian security services completed their background check in 2009 for a new inspector at the Doel nuclear power plant, about an hour’s drive from Brussels. Like other inspectors, Ilyass Boughalab had access to secure areas…

Commentary
National Security Vision and the Next President

By Debra Decker:  With presidential candidates touting their respective visions for America, it is critical to consider what makes for a good national security vision. A good national security vision not only has to reflect what is desirable but a…

Issue Brief
The Quest for Nuclear Security Standards

Growing nuclear energy demands along with the rising tide of violence and extremism call for innovative measures to strengthen the largely voluntary nuclear security regime. As the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit approaches, the international…

Commentary
Fix it, Don’t Ditch it

David Edelstein and Ronald Krebs (“Delusions of Grand Strategy,” November/December 2015) rightly point out that in planning for national security, it is difficult to calculate costs and benefits and to accurately assess perceived threats. But that does…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker’s Letter to Foreign Affairs on National Security

David Edelstein and Ronald Krebs (“Delusions of Grand Strategy,” November/December 2015) rightly point out that in planning for national security, it is difficult to calculate costs and benefits and to accurately assess perceived threats. But that does…

Report
Nuclear Energy: Securing The Future – A Case For Voluntary Consensus Standards

The Challenge: As global energy demands grow in parallel with concerns over climate change and energy security, States are looking to nuclear power to satisfy their baseload electricity needs and reduce their reliance on carbon fuels. Given the in…

Commentary
Nuclear Energy: Securing The Future – A Case For Voluntary Consensus Standards

By Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut:  The Challenge: As global energy demands grow in parallel with concerns over climate change and energy security, States are looking to nuclear power to satisfy their baseload electricity needs and reduce th…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut quoted in UPI on Nuclear Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2016 — Nuclear power plants need to improve security systems to safeguard against non-traditional terrorist attacks, but that’s challenging for developing countries, experts said Thursday. Read the full article here….

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut’s Op-ed in The New York Times on Nuclear Cybersecurity

Kudos to the Nuclear Threat Initiative for its 2016 nuclear security index. Your article’s emphasis on its cybersecurity findings, while valid, is skewed. Read more here.

Commentary
Nuclear Cybersecurity: Why We Should Worry

Kudos to the Nuclear Threat Initiative for its 2016 nuclear security index. Your article’s emphasis on its cybersecurity findings, while valid, is skewed. Read the full article here.

Commentary
Help! The Stimson Connector Initiative Pilot Project On Trade Controls

Can civil society be engaged to help address international security issues? Governmental organizations have insufficient resources in funding and skills to address today’s complex problems; people and institutions want to help, if they can be well dire…

Stimson in the News
Opportunities Of The Obama Visit

When President Obama visits with Caribbean leaders April 9 in Jamaica, broad trade and security issues should top his agenda. Trade growth in the Americas can drive jobs and development – a good thing for everyone. But security issues in one country ca…

Commentary
Opportunities of the Obama Visit

When President Obama visits with Caribbean leaders April 9 in Jamaica, broad trade and security issues should top his agenda. Trade growth in the Americas can drive jobs and development – a good thing for everyone. But security issues in one country ca…

Commentary
Using Insurance to Address Terrorism Risk

The Terrorism Risk Insurance program, set to expire this year, needs to get more than a holiday ride into an extension; any bill should include a requirement to consider more broadly the government’s role in insurance against catastrophic risks. …

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker op-ed in the Hill on terror insurance

Despite only a few gasps left until Congress adjourns this year, much still needs to be done.  Among the less publicly-noted items in this holiday limbo is terrorism risk insurance. This program that provides government support for insurers to cov…

Commentary
Government Can’t Do It All, But The Public Can Help

Government cannot tackle all of the nation’s problems, and it recognizes the need for more help. More agencies should consider an appeal to the public — an approach that leverages citizen problem-solvers. It’s a promising innovative practice that some…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker’s op-ed on more effective government is published in Government Executive

Government cannot tackle all of the nation’s problems, and it recognizes the need for more help. More agencies should consider an appeal to the public — an approach that leverages citizen problem-solvers. It’s a promising innovative practice that some…

Stimson in the News
Debra Decker in Carrier Management: A Win-Win for Government and Insurers: Partnering for Security

October 10, 2013 Despite the government shutdown, sometimes government gets it right. Recently, government appeared to truly appreciate the benefit of establishing public-private partnerships, including with insurers. Three meetings held at the end of…

Commentary
A Win-Win for Government and Insurers: Partnering for Security

Despite the government shutdown, sometimes government gets it right. Recently, government appeared to truly appreciate the benefit of establishing public-private partnerships, including with insurers. Three meetings held at the end of September—two hos…