Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 7, 2006

Iowa trims its critical infrastructure list

Filed under: Infrastructure Protection,State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on January 7, 2006

The AP reports today on efforts in Iowa to trim their critical infrastructure inventory from 11,000 locations to 1,360, trimming out sites such as family farms, small dams, and schools to get to the lower number. But even at the lower figure, some of the following locations still made the cut:

Just as members of the national 9/11 Commission criticized the federal government for moving too slowly to identify critical assets, national security experts are questioning Iowa’s list, which includes the Field of Dreams near Dyersville, the Boone Railroad Museum, the De Soto National Wildlife Refuge in Harrison County and the Grotto of Redemption in West Bend.

Other locations on Iowa’s list include Sprouts Unlimited Inc., a vegetable producer in Marion; Snappy Popcorn Co., in Breda; and a Krispy Kreme shop in Clive.

Krispy Kreme? Delicious perhaps, but by no means critical. Clearly, the list needs more trimming, as is suggested in the article. This is a state-level process, but DHS also bears some responsibility for the fact that many states have struggled with this process. The article notes:

[Iowa homeland security director David] Miller said he has been frustrated by the lack of direction from the federal government and cooperation from businesses in compiling the list.

Identifying critical infrastructure is always going to be an inherently ambiguous process: there’s no right and final answer as to what is critical and where the cut-off point should be for including a place in a federal or state inventory. But this ambiguity can be managed and reduced if there are guidelines and frameworks to which states can turn, and if there is open and trust-based information-sharing between the federal, state, and local levels. On these points, DHS should probably be doing more to help states like Iowa.

Update (1/8): The Iowa State Daily agrees with my sentiments about Krispy Kreme.

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