Late last week the Department of Homeland Security released the latest supporting plan to the National Strategy on Maritime Security, the Maritime Infrastructure Recovery Plan. Hurricane Katrina had delayed the plan’s release, causing DHS and the other participating agencies to reassess the original draft in light of the maritime recovery issues resulting from the hurricane.
The plan is fundamentally solid in its design, and is honest about the complexity of the challenges of organizing response and recovery activities in a diverse, multi-stakeholder environment. For example, the chart plots out this tangled web of information flows between the federal government and the private sector, as it pertains to maritime incident recovery (click here to enlarge):
The key success factor for this plan, in my opinion, is the extent to which federal officials understand the difference between what they can and can’t control in responding to an uncertain, disruptive event. If a terrorist attack disrupts the maritime transport system, the response is something that the federal government will be able to coordinate but not fully manage or control, given the diversity of stakeholders involved in the system. To its credit, the plan recognizes this in its emphasis on preparedness and training activities involving all stakeholders. Overall, an interesting report, and one that should be studied closely by appropriate officials at all levels of government and in the private sector.