Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 22, 2006

DHS creates new critical infrastructure advisory council

Filed under: DHS News,Infrastructure Protection — by Christian Beckner on March 22, 2006

CQ has an interesting story today (by subscription only) on the creation of a new DHS advisory council, the “Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council”:

Sensitive information about critical infrastructure and vulnerabilities that the private sector shares with the Department of Homeland Security will now remain protected due to the establishment of a new advisory committee, CQ Homeland Security has learned.

The private sector has long been asking that its discussions with DHS about critical infrastructure be protected from the public, said Ann Beauchesne, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce homeland security division. If sensitive information about vulnerabilities is open to the public, it could end up in the hands of “bad actors,” she said….

In establishing the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC), DHS would for the first time use its exemption authority to the federal law (Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA, PL 92-43) that mandates advisory councils and meetings be open to the public, DHS spokesman Russ Knocke confirmed.

My usual inclination is that DHS needs to be more open about its activities, but I can see the value in this specific case of having an advisory committee that is exempt from FACA, as a means to facilitate open discussion between DHS and industry about sectoral vulnerabilities. But if this committee discusses other issues related to critical infrastructure (e.g. information-sharing activities, liability issues, grant program status), then those portions of its meetings should be FACA compliant and open to the public.

The article notes that DHS will publish a notice in the Federal Register about the committee. I’ll provide an update then.

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3 Comments »

410

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 22, 2006 @ 11:41 am

It is interesting to note that Critical Infrastructure Protection-really now the separate worlds of physical security and cyber-security seems to be having such a hard go of it as the 10th anniversary of the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection is about to arrive. Perhaps that anniversary requires a detailed report card on the nation’s efforts to determine what are the barriers to what seems to be recognized as a non-functioning portion of the total homeland security effort. Also what are other countries doing? Other than the George Mason University program and newsletter, a reveiw of the literature does not seems to reveal much interest in this arena. Perhaps if national icons were more critical to the nations survival they would be of less interest. The ISAC’s are doing some good work but is it enough?

414

Comment by Stephen Hood

March 23, 2006 @ 8:46 am

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Cumming. Critical Infrastructure Protection has always been the poor step-sister of terrorism preparedness and continuity of operations (COOP) planning. As a former Fed who pressed hard pre-9/11 for terrorism preparedness and COOP planning to be done by the Federal departments and agencies, I found it was a hard sell until 9/11, when the threat became all too real. I suspect that progress will not be made on the critical infrastructure protection front until the electronic 9/11 arrives…and then it will be too late.

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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » DHS announces Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council

March 27, 2006 @ 2:28 am

[…] On Wednesday last week I wrote about a CQ story that previewed the creation of a new Federal Advisory Committee for DHS, the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC). On Friday, DHS published a notice about the new committee in the Federal Register, which lays out the Department’s rationale for exempting the new committee from the open meeting requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), and describes the role and membership of CIPAC. […]

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