Free «Case 4 Infrastructure» Essay Sample

Case 4 Infrastructure

1. The relationship of NIPP and SSPs. Also, their relationship with Department of Homeland Security.

Power plants, highways, dams, bridges and cyber networks are all critical divisions of the national infrastructure — which is indispensible for the normal functioning of American society’s daily routine. Protecting and guaranteeing the resilience of all critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) of the U.S. is crucial for health and safety of American people, vitality of the American economy, and sustenance of a normal lifestyle. The Department of Homeland Security is primarily responsible for protecting this critical infrastructure from natural disasters as well as terrorist attacks. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has the obligation to lead national security exertions to identify and assess potential threats of terrorist acts or other disasters in order to protect critical infrastructure from being destroyed (President Obama, 2010).

In 2003, President Bush issued the first Homeland Security Directive (HSPD-7), which assigned the responsibility for consolidating national endeavors to strengthen the protection of CIKR to the Homeland Security. The directive has also obliged the Homeland Security to work out the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), which outlines the distribution of obligations and responsibilities between government and private sector participants to work jointly in dealing with possible threats in order to accomplish security and resilience of CIKR (US Department of Homeland Security, 2013a).

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Sector-Specific Agencies (SSAs) are partners of NIPP that are developing and implementing sector-specific plans (SSPs), which are accounting for the details in the application of the NIPP recommendations to the unique features of every particular sector. There are 17 CIKR sectors, and for each of them, an SSP is developed. Each SSP considers the unique sector-specific applications of risks and threats as well as ways of dealing with them (US Department of Homeland Security, 2013b).

2. Explain the function of an SSP; choose a particular SSP and describe its purpose. Also, why did you choose that particular plan?

The National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) through support of SSPs provides the coordinated solution in order to ascertain national priorities, tasks, and conditions for securing CIKR. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has in its organizational structure the Energy Sector-Specific Agency (ESSA), which is charged with creating and realizing the Energy Sector-Specific Plan (ESSP) (which is an annex to the NIPP). Through the realization of ESSP on all levels of government, industry and international partners obtained an elaborate guidance of cooperation and partnership in order to develop, implement and guarantee the safety of the energy CIKR. Besides, during the last decade, the Sector of Energy has made considerable progress in developing strategies to secure the infrastructure of the energy sector and to get ready for efficient and quick rehabilitation in response to acts of terrorism or natural disasters (US Department of Homeland Security, 2013b).

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Therefore, securing and upgrading the resilience of all subsectors of the energy sector in response to both natural and manmade disasters requires elaborate planning. Hence, the SSP considers every factor of influence within the energy sector such as human, cyber, or physical; then, by identifying the necessary assets, systems and networks, it develops a comprehensive plan of protection, preparation, resilience and contingency measures. The plan also identifies and distributes responsibilities and obligations in relation to CIKR among all stakeholders of the industry in order to consolidate and direct their common efforts for achieving the best possible outcome in case of disaster.

3. What are some lessons learned from past natural disasters? Explain in terms of people and infrastructures? Be specific.

The success of every properly elaborated plan is relying on the ability of its participants to cooperate, quickly assess the threats and risks of the situation, act from the viewpoint of a common tactical perspective, and timely and efficiently apply the necessary resources. Therefore, it is crucial for a successful implementation of the plan to assign a person who will be responsible for the coordination and decision making on behalf of all stakeholders in order to achieve the common goal (Cooper & Block, 2007).

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Unfortunately, the absence of such a leader during the Hurricane Katrina disaster resulted in losses of numerous human lives. This disaster revealed major weaknesses in the areas of preparedness to the catastrophic events as well as communication and information exchange. The poor preparedness was conditioned by lack of material resources such as first-aid kits, speaking devices and rescue facilities as well as inadequate training of rescue teams and medical personnel to operate in conditions of high stress and danger (Birkland, 2006). However, that was the communication problem that led the situation to a no-win condition.

Hurricane Katrina was responsible for the complete collapse of infrastructures in the region; as a matter of fact, it was the most catastrophic collapse of critical infrastructures that any country has experienced since World War II. Actually, all of the sectors of CIKR in the Gulf region were destroyed almost simultaneously. Failures of some of the divisions of infrastructure had cascading impacts on other subdivisions. These failures exceeded the limits of available resources of communication and led to a complete breakdown in the command and control of the public order (Cooper & Block, 2007). Therefore, the Gulf region appeared in a condition when all infrastructures, including the mobile networks, were paralyzed. Furthermore, the initial response to the disaster was delayed due to absence of clear instructions from the chief of FEMA. Additionally, in the course of the whole response period to post-hurricane Katrina devastations, no one was in control of rescue and recovery operations. Hence, no one was in charge of the whole operation, and no one coordinated the communication between the stakeholders who dealt with the disastrous consequences. Because of the random and non-substantial communication, every division of stakeholders acted according to their own understanding. The leading agents of FEMA were not able (or maybe not qualified) to provide the efficient cooperation among their local and state representatives and partners (Cooper & Block, 2007). As a result, the inability to properly and timely react to the distress circumstances resulted in more than 1,200 casualties in Mississippi and Louisiana that otherwise could be avoided. Afterwards, Michael Brown, the former chief of FEMA, blamed Louisiana officials and “their unproductive involvement” for losing so many people’s lives in the natural disaster (Birkland, 2006).