Among the efforts of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) provides advice on the security of the critical infrastructure sectors as well as their information systems. The council is composed of a maximum of 30 members, appointed by the President from private industry, academia and state and local government.

The Council believes that productive collaboration among federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private businesses that own and operate roughly 90 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructures leads to a safer, more secure and resilient United States.

The public-private partnership is a novel collaboration that has been growing and maturing since the 1990s. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it expanded to include additional sectors.

The tangible benefits of this partnership can be seen in U.S. chemical facilities, nuclear power plants, water systems, transportation networks and other critical infrastructures.

More recently, NIAC formed the Strategic Partnership Assessment Working Group to examine the sector partnership and recommend improvements moving forward.

For example, critical infrastructures, such as financial networks, the electric grid, and communication systems acting as the backbone of America’s economic and business systems, are essential to everyday safety, health, and security. Here, the government provides intelligence about potential threats and mobilizes public resources for protection, response and recovery, and informed private sector security executives use this information to effectively manage risks and operate infrastructures in the face of threats.

Overall, under the leadership of DHS Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Robert Stephan, industry, federal, state and regional organizations have built a network of collaborative councils that forms a sustainable partnership structure. Each sector now has a tailored plan that outlines goals and strategies for protecting their infrastructure, and reports annual progress toward these goals. Still, some sector councils have been slow to form, some are active but lack sufficient resources and a few are largely inactive. Some companies feel the government does not understand business operations and has created too many partnership requirements. The most successful partnerships have a strong commitment from senior government and corporate executives who are informed and engaged on infrastructure issues.

Protection and resilience must be complementary elements of an integrated risk management strategy.
Leading companies and sectors view cross-sector interoperability as the new frontier in infrastructure resilience. As knowledge of individual sector vulnerabilities improves, greater emphasis is needed to understand cross-sector interdependencies and the expectations and limitations of interconnected sectors. Cross-sector coordination is also an important part of the value proposition for partnership participation.

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