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 â€œbad actors,â€ 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.