Doug Bedell — July 16, 2007, 10:53 am

Critical Collaboration Slow to Emerge

Not surprisingly, the congressionally-sponsored effort to assure protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure under the Department of Homeland Security is getting off to an uneven start. But it’s important for public and private organizations in each of the 17 infrastructure sectors to become familiar with what’s needed for successful planning. And to join in the effort.

Mainly needed, notes the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) in a recently issued report, “Critical Infrastructure Protection: Sector Plans and Sector Councils Continue to Evolve,” is collaboration and patient, forthcoming participation.

The 17 critical infrastructure sectors are:

• Agriculture and food
• Defense industrial base
• Energy
• Public health and health care
• National monuments and icons
• Banking and finance
• Drinking water and water treatment systems
• Chemical
• Commercial facilities
• Dams
• Emergency services
• Nuclear reactors, materials and waste
• Information technology
• Communications
• Postal and shipping
• Transportation systems
• Government facilities

The GAO notes that the private sector owns approximately 85 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure and key resources—banking and financial institutions, telecommunications networks, and energy production and transmission facilities, among others. Therefore, it’s “vital that the public and private sectors form effective partnerships to successfully protect these assets.”

So far, though, only the emerging plan for water treatment systems includes all three required components – physical assets, human and cyber assets.

This sort of mega-planning is extremely challenging in terms of participation and persistence. But it’s vital work if the nation is going to be effectively protected from terrorism.

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