GAO: DHS Can Improve on Critical Infrastructure Protection Efforts
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report he requested on critical infrastructure protection, entitled "Critical Infrastructure Protection: DHS Could Better Manage Security Surveys and Vulnerability Assessments" (GAO-12-378). The report assesses the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) has conducted voluntary security surveys of mostly private-sector Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources (CIKR), how it shared the resulting information, and how it assessed the effectiveness of the results.
The GAO found that while DHS has increased efforts to increase and improve these surveys, they still face some challenges with conducting them. For example, DHS often encounters inconsistent data in determining which CIKR are high priority and they also do not track why owner operators opt out of surveys. Also, DHS shares survey results with owner operators but does not always do so in a timely manner. Overall, DHS could improve on program management if it had realistic institutional goals and took full use of survey results. GAO recommended DHS develop plans to improve on the collection and organization of data and the timeliness of survey and assessment results and gather additional information from asset owners and operators about why improvements were or were not made.
Congressman Thompson released the following statement with the report:
"The protection of our critical infrastructure, assets and systems vital to the economy and health of our nation, is one of our highest security priorities. This report shows that while DHS has made strides in collaboration and information sharing with its critical infrastructure partners, it must do more to both improve critical infrastructure security and develop stronger ties with the private sector. The ability of DHS to work toward strong cooperative relationships with the private sector partners who own over 80 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is vital. This program has seen false starts and suffered from a lack of direction under the previous Administration. I am pleased that the Obama Administration is getting this program on track. I look forward to working with Under Secretary Rand Beers in his efforts to bring about the necessary course corrections."
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