Doug Bedell — November 9, 2007, 11:10 pm

Sorting Out Security Roles

There’s almost a note of frustration – along with pride and confidence – in an interview with James F. Powers, Jr., Pennsylvania’s director of Homeland Security in the November issue of Security Management magazine.

“When I say I’m responsible for protecting critical infrastructure,” the former Army Special Forces officer says, “I can’t use one dime of federal or state money to actually harden a site. By federal law, all the money has to go to first response, 80 percent for localities, and 20 percent for the state. So in practice, it probably should not be called protection, but in overall terms the federal government sees it as protecting the capability to respond.”

So who does the protecting? “The biggest challenge,” Powers says, “is convincing the private sector owner-operators that they have to invest in their own physical protection. Because the most I can do is leverage federal money to go to first responders….

“I tell private companies that operate the critical infrastructure, you have to invest in your own security. You’re the only person that can buy cameras and guards and barriers, and reroute traffic, and have a redundancy plan to put your servers in another building.”

That’s an interesting and pertinent perspective, given the high visibility government officials have in homeland security affairs. Actual protective measures belong to the managers of facilities requiring protection. That’s the state perspective, this Pennsylvania official advises, and it deserves strong emphasis. Look to your own security, managers. And call on firms like PRO Barrier to help you sort through your protection options.

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