Successes in Public-Private Partnerships Contribute to Private Sector Resilience

Posted: February 19, 2016 at 3:29 pm

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A Release from the Department of Homeland Security,
Office of Infrastructure Protection

The responsibility to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure is shared between the private sector, which owns and operates the vast majority of critical infrastructure, and the public sector, which has the risk and threat intelligence, tools, and expertise. Recognizing the need to coalesce around a unified national effort, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) developed a collaborative public-private partnership framework that lays the foundation for successful public-private partnerships in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan 2013: Partnering for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (NIPP 2013).

Putting the NIPP public-private partnership framework into practice, the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council (SLTTGCC) and the Regional Consortium Coordinating Council (RC3) are two councils focused on short- and long-term priorities in critical infrastructure resilience. The SLTTGCC serves as a forum for SLTT governments to participate and coordinate across jurisdictions in national critical infrastructure security and resilience efforts, and the RC3 is a cross-sector council that provides a framework to support regional public-private partnerships.

Several members of these councils were interviewed over the past two years on how their public-private partnerships are contributing to resilience. From these interviews, several key themes have emerged. One is the important role public-private partnerships play in supporting community resilience. For example, The California Resiliency Alliance (CRA), an RC3 member, supports community and critical infrastructure resilience through ongoing stakeholder engagement and planning services. The CRA also brings together public and private sector participants in workshops to address response and recovery topics such as fuel, power, water and wastewater; and supports supply chain resilience projects in the Bay area. The 2014 South Napa earthquake provided infrastructure challenges for power and water that were mitigated by partnerships formed through the CRA.

Another key theme is the value of collaboration through information sharing and networking. This can be seen in how ChicagoFIRST worked with the city of Chicago to establish a Business Access Recovery Program to enable private sector owners and operators vetted access to their assets and facilities during and following incidents. Quicker access allowed for faster recovery, making the private sector more resilient. The creation of this program would not have been possible unless both the government and private businesses were sharing information and working together to figure out how the city could recover more rapidly.

SLTTGCC and RC3 council members also benefit from the opportunity to share information with each other at the national level and learn best practices from what others are doing. Several members have cited a direct connection to the information-sharing opportunities they have had with the SLTTGCC and RC3 in ensuring the success of their public-private partnerships and staying current with emerging threats, especially cyber threats. For example, Theresa Masse, Information Security Officer of the Port of Portland, benefited from her membership in the SLTTGCC because she was able to increase her awareness of the physical security aspects of critical infrastructure, share best practices, and learn about tools and resources that she applies to keeping the port safe from cyberattacks that could interrupt key supply chains relied on by the public and private sector.

To highlight these and other public-private partnership efforts, and provide insight into how their public-private partnerships contribute to critical infrastructure security and resilience, the Office of Infrastructure Protection, a subcomponent of DHS, has featured individuals from various public and private sector organizations in The Partnership Quarterly, a publication that reaches thousands of direct subscribers, and provides essential information to readers on training and exercise opportunities, new tools, and events.  To subscribe to The Partnership Quarterly and learn more about these partnerships, please send a request to sector.partnership@hq.dhs.gov.

Write to the Editors at ciprpt@gmu.edu