Critical infrastructure protection plan released

July 3 '06: The Department of Homeland Security announced the completion of a report focusing on critical infrastructure and key resource protection (CR/KR) called the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). Completion of the report "represents an unprecedented initiative ... that integrates critical infrastructure security efforts, sets protection goals and supporting objectives, and focuses resources according to risk," reported according to DHS officials. Government Technology reported that completion of the report "fulfills requirements in [the] Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 7 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002."

Under the HSPD 7, the Bush administration mandated Congress to prioritize areas in the country which were essential to protect from a terrorist attack. The directive also would establish a nationally-mandated standard to help prioritize those areas and then allocate security accordingly.

DHS Under Secretary for Preparedness George Foresman told Government Technology, "The NIPP is the path forward on building and enhancing protective measures for the critical infrastructure assets and cyber systems that sustain commerce and communities throughout the United States. ... The NIPP formalizes and strengthens existing critical infrastructure partnerships and creates the baseline for how the public and private sectors will work together to build a safer, more secure and resilient America."

In the report, protection of CR/KR includes "a wide range of activities, such as hardening facilities, building resiliency and redundancy, incorporating hazard resistance into initial facility design," and other measures including security system installation, "passive countermeasures" and workforce security programs to train employees on proper safety requirements.

Recent other reports have called on the federal government to strengthen CR/KR. The report, released Thursday by the Century Foundation, a nonprofit public policy research institute, found three main areas of improvement for homeland security and preparedness. The report, written by some of the top counterterrorism and homeland security experts in the country, entitled "The Forgotten Homeland" stressed a greater need for a refocusing of federal money to high risk areas, greater cooperation between the private sector and the federal government to help protect critical infrastructure, and an improvement general homeland protection programs.

In a press release the foundation wrote that many of the recommendations, if followed by the federal government, "would require ... a reallocation of funding at the federal and, to a lesser extent, the state and local levels. ... In addition, the task force calls for a transparent review process at all levels in setting and achieving standards and goals."

The foundation's report, whose authors include former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke and senior National Security Council official Rand Beers who served under four presidents in counterterrorism and law enforcement affairs, said that Washington should refocus money on large metropolitan areas because "the major focus of domestic security, including metropolitan response plans, medical systems, policing and intelligence efforts," are in those areas.