National Special Security Event

National Special Security Event
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano (center) at a security news conference for Super Bowl XLIV, on February 1, 2010

A National Special Security Event (NSSE) is an event of national or international significance deemed by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be a potential target for terrorism or other criminal activity. These events have included summits of world leaders, meetings of international organizations, presidential nominating conventions and presidential inaugurations. NSSE designation requires federal agencies to provide full cooperation and support to ensure the safety and security of those participating in or otherwise attending the event, and the community within which the event takes place, and is typically limited to specific event sites for a specified time frame. An NSSE puts the United States Secret Service in charge of event security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in charge of intelligence, counter terrorism, hostage rescue and investigation of incidents of terrorism or other major criminal activities associated with the NSSE, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of recovery management in the aftermath of terrorist or other major criminal incidents, natural disasters or other catastrophic events. NSSE designation is not a funding mechanism, and currently there is no specific federal "pot of money" to be distributed to state and local governments within whose jurisdiction NSSEs take place.



NSSE procedures were established by President Bill Clinton in a portion of Presidential Decision Directive 62 in May 1998, which set out the security roles for federal agencies at major events.[1] The Presidential Threat Protection Act of 2000 (Pub.L. 106-544, signed into law on 2000-12-19) added special events explicitly to the powers of the United States Secret Service in 18 U.S.C. § 3056.


A number of factors are taken into consideration when designating an event as a National Special Security Event. Department of Homeland Security press releases usually cite the following factors:[2]

  • Anticipated attendance by dignitaries. Events attended by officials of the United States government or foreign dignitaries may create an independent federal interest to ensure that the event transpires without incident and that sufficient resources are brought to bear in the event of an incident.
  • Size of the event. A large number of attendees and participants generally increases security requirements. In addition, larger events are more likely to draw the attention of terrorists or other criminals, particularly those interested in employing weapons of mass destruction.
  • Significance of the event. Some events have historical, political, cultural, or symbolic significance that may heighten concern about possible terrorist acts or other criminal activity.
  • Duration of the event. State and local law enforcement and public safety agencies may possess the manpower and other resources to provide adequate security for a major event within their jurisdiction (e.g. World Series, NASCAR race, Super Bowl, televised awards show), but is unable to do so for events over several days or weeks and at the same time continue to meet routine obligations in the greater community.
  • Availability of state and local resources. When state and local jurisdictions lack the expertise, experience, manpower or other assets needed to ensure comprehensive protection of these major events of national or international significance.
  • Multiplicity of Jurisdictions. Extensive coordination of law enforcement and public safety agencies from multiple jurisdictions.
  • Threat Assessments. Anticipation of terrorism, or extensive illegal civil disobedience or other criminal activity.

When an NSSE is declared, the Secret Service becomes the lead agency for the security planning for the event; the FBI takes lead responsibility for counterterrorism, counterintelligence, criminal investigations; and FEMA takes lead responsibility for crisis management. Like the FBI and FEMA, the Secret Service brings in local law enforcement, public safety, and military experts to assist with developing the plan, and give them the special guidance and training to operate within the security plan.[2]

Typical NSSE security measures include:


18 U.S.C. § 3056 paragraph (e)(2) requires that, at the end of each federal fiscal year, the executive branch report to Congress which events were designated NSSEs, and what criteria were used to make the designations.

Typical types of NSSEs are state funerals, major political conventions, the Academy Awards, major sporting events (e.g., the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl), and the State of the Union addresses.[5]

Date Event Location
01998-09-13 13 September 1998
(to 17 September)
World Energy Council Meeting World Energy Council Meeting[5] Houston, Texas
01999-04-23 23 April 1999
(to 25 April)
NATO 50th Anniversary Celebration NATO 50th Anniversary Celebration[5] Washington, D.C.
02000-07-03 3 July 2000
(to 9 July)
International Naval Review (OpSail) International Naval Review (OpSail)[5] New York, New York
01999-11-29 29 November 1999
(to 3 December)
World Trade Organization Meeting World Trade Organization Meeting[5] Seattle, Washington
02000-01-27 27 January 2000 2000 State of the Union Address 2000 State of the Union Address[5] Washington, D.C.
02000-04-14 14 April 2000
(to 17 April)
International Monetary Fund Spring Meeting International Monetary Fund Spring Meeting[5] Washington, D.C.
02000-07-29 29 July 2000
(to 4 August)
Republican National Convention 2000 Republican National Convention[5] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
02000-08-14 14 August 2000
(to 16 August)
Democratic National Convention 2000 Democratic National Convention[5] Los Angeles, California
02001-01-20 20 January 2001 Presidential Inauguration 2001 Presidential Inauguration[5] Washington, D.C.
02001-02-27 27 February 2001 Presidential Address to Congress Presidential Address to Congress[5] Washington, D.C.
02001-11-10 10 November 2001
(to 16 November)
United Nations General Assembly 56th session[5] New York City
02002-01-29 29 January 2002 2002 State of the Union Address 2002 State of the Union Address[5] Washington, D.C.
02002-02-03 3 February 2002 Super Bowl 36 Super Bowl XXXVI[5][6] New Orleans, Louisiana
02002-02-08 8 February 2002
(to 24 February)
Winter Olympics 2002 Winter Olympics[5][6] Salt Lake City, Utah
02002-05-21 21 May 2002
(to 22 May)
World Economic Forum USA Meeting[citation needed] Washington, D.C.
02003-01-20 20 January 2003 2003 State of the Union Address Washington, DC
02004-01-20 20 January 2004 2004 State of the Union Address 2004 State of the Union Address[5] Washington, D.C.
02004-06-08 8 June 2004
(to 10 June)
Sea Island G8 summit 3030th G8 summit[5] Sea Island, Georgia
02004-06-09 9 June 2004
(to 11 June)
State funeral of Ronald Reagan[5][7] Washington, D.C. and Simi Valley, California
02004-07-26 26 July 2004
(to 29 July)
Democratic National Convention 2004 Democratic National Convention[5][7] Boston, Massachusetts
02004-08-30 30 August 2004
(to 2 September)
Republican National Convention 2004 Republican National Convention[5][7] New York City, NY
02005-01-20 20 January 2005 Presidential Inauguration 2005 Presidential Inauguration[5][7] Washington, D.C.
02005-02-02 2 February 2005 State of the Union 2005 State of the Union Address[5][7] Washington, D.C.
02006-01-31 31 January 2006 State of the Union 2006 State of the Union Address[7] Washington, D.C.
02006-12-30 30 December 2006
(to 3 January 2007)
State funeral of Gerald Ford[5][7] Washington, D.C. and Grand Rapids, Michigan
02007-01-23 23 January 2007 State of the Union 2007 State of the Union Address[7] Washington, D.C.
02008-01-28 28 January 2008 State of the Union 2008 State of the Union Address[5][7] Washington, D.C.
02008-08-25 25 August 2008
(to 28 August)
Democratic National Convention 2008 Democratic National Convention Denver, Colorado
02008-09-01 1 September 2008
(to 4 September)
Republican National Convention 2008 Republican National Convention St. Paul, Minnesota
02009-01-20 20 January 2009 Presidential Inauguration 2009 Presidential Inauguration[5][7] Washington, D.C.
02009-09-24 24 September 2009
(to 25 September)
2009 G-20 Pittsburgh summit 2009 G-20 Pittsburgh summit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
02010-01-27 27 January 2010 State of the Union 2010 State of the Union Address Washington, D.C.
02011-01-25 25 January 2011 2011 State of the Union Address Washington DC
02011-11-12 12 November 2011
(to 13 November)
2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit Honolulu, Hawaii


  1. ^ "National Special Security Events". United States Secret Service. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Fact Sheet: National Special Security Events". Office of the Press Secretary, United States Department of Homeland Security. 2006-12-29. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  3. ^ "Paula Zahn Now". June 8, 2004. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Paula Zahn Now (television). CNN. June 8, 2004. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "CSR Report for Congress - National Special Security Events". Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-11-05. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b "A Partial Administration Timeline of Homeland Security Actions through May 29 of 2002". United States Department of Homeland Security. 2005-12-21. Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Designation of the President's State of the Union Address as a National Special Security Event". Office of the Press Secretary, United States Department of Homeland Security. 2008-01-28. Retrieved 2008-02-01. "Since 1998, the Secret Service has led federal security operations at 24 National Special Security Events, including President Gerald Ford's state funeral, the 2005 Presidential Inauguration, the 2004 Republican and Democratic National Conventions, President Ronald Reagan's state funeral in 2004, and the last three State of the Union Addresses." 

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