Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification [October 1, 2004]   [open pdf - 85KB]

"The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (NSPP) details a major part of the Bush administration's overall homeland security strategy. Implementing this Strategy requires clear definition of 'critical infrastructures' and 'key assets.' Although the Strategy provides such definitions, the meaning of 'critical infrastructure' in the public policy context has been evolving for decades and is still open to debate. Twenty years ago, 'infrastructure' was defined primarily with respect to the adequacy of the nation's public works. In the mid-1990's, however, the growing threat of international terrorism led policy makers to reconsider the definition of 'infrastructure' in the context of homeland security. Successive federal government reports, laws and executive orders have refined, and generally expanded, the number of infrastructure sectors and the types of assets considered to be 'critical' for purposes of homeland security. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001(P.L. 107-56) contains the federal government's most recent definition of 'critical infrastructure.' The NSPP contains the most recent detailed list of critical infrastructures and assets of national importance. The list may continue to evolve, however, as economic changes or geopolitical developments influence homeland security policy."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32631
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