It's Up to You?
Homeland Security looks to industry to secure nation's infrastructure
WASHINGTON, DC - 01/15/04 - Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have said that the government does not plan to place many security requirements on private industry when it comes to protecting the nation's critical infrastructure.
James Loy, the department's deputy secretary, said the federal government will back away from issuing new security mandates to industry, and instead let private companies take the lead "in most cases" to protect critical infrastructure, such as transportation systems, power plants and water reservoirs.
"We cannot secure the homeland from Washington, DC," Loy told a gathering of industry representatives during a recent conference sponsored by the Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.
Upwards of 85% of the nation's critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private firms.
"You are in the best position to tell us where your vulnerabilities lie, what the business community is doing, what first responders need and how we can help in that process," he said. "But unlike wars of the past ... this is not going to be a situation where the federal government simply does it for the nation."
Loy said the directorate's mission is to analyze potential threats against the US, map the nation's critical infrastructure, identify ways to reduce vulnerabilities and provide industry with information.
During a panel discussion before Loy spoke, Frank Libutti, DHS undersecretary for information analysis and infrastructure protection, said the department wants to partner with, rather than regulate, industry. He said private companies, however, might have to invest in better security measures.
"When necessary, they need to belly up and put money on the table to support refining their readiness to deal with the security dimensions of the 21st century," Libutti said. "We need to partner like we never have before and that starts with coming to the table and talking straight from the shoulder about their needs, our needs, setting standards and moving out together."
Loy said the department does not yet have a breakdown of how homeland security expenses will be shouldered by state and local governments, the private sector and the federal government. He said the department would work with different sectors in the coming months to determine how costs will be allocated.
The DHS will also alter its national threat advisory system, Loy said. In the future, it will issue recommended steps of action that different sectors should take when threat levels are increased.
Loy emphasized that the actions will not be mandatory. He also echoed comments made recently by DHS Secretary Tom Ridge that future threat levels may be targeted to certain industries or regions as opposed to the entire country.
Loy said the department is still developing its processes and practices.
"I will be the first to acknowledge that the vision that we have for DHS is a work in progress," he said. "And I would be the first to acknowledge that ... the notion of what critical infrastructure protection and information analysis and sharing means to this country has yet to play itself out and be realized from coast to coast."
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