Calls for increased cooperation among infrastructure and centralized focus in DHS
| 02.06.2006 | 10:34:38 | Views: 2230 | ID:
February 6 '06: One of the major factors in being prepared in the event of a national or natural disaster is information sharing and coordination of rescue and recovery efforts - two essential factors that one homeland security official has said the Department of Homeland Security needs to work on in 2006.
GovExec.com reported late last week that much of the critical infrastructure in the US which would be vulnerable to a terrorist attack or a natural disaster is in the private sector - away from government regulation. Because government authority to regulate industries like energy companies and power companies is limited, information sharing on a national level is imperative according to Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Col. Robert Stephen.Stephan told GovExec that almost 85 percent of all critical infrastructure is in the private sector. He also said that number was the impetus for a call to improve information sharing among water, electricity and information technology industries. The new proposals are included in the 2006 report on the national infrastructure protection plan which is slated to be given to the White House this month. Stephan told GovExec, "The first thing I decided was we needed to overhaul our interim national infrastructure protection program. ... We needed a strategic backbone. We've been working very hard, interrupted minorly by hurricanes in September and October." Stephan said the biggest lesson learned during the 2005 hurricane season was: "You've got to have a good plan tying everyone together." In similar news, Government Computer News reported earlier that a letter has been sent to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recommending the centralization of policy reform within the department. The letter was sent by a group of eight homeland security scholars from across the political and academic spectrum. GCN reported the letter saying, "The organizational structure of the department has consistently worked against its performance. Perhaps the most glaring problem, evident from the first days of DHS, was the lack of a centralized policy organization to break down the stovepipes that DHS inherited from its 22 legacy agencies." Eight recommendations were given in the letter - among them: "a beefed-up policy office, ranging from budget planning to oversight of key border programs as well as coordination with foreign governments, Congress, the private sector and other federal agencies."
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