Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy, and Implementation [Updated April 2, 2008] [open pdf - 241KB]
"The nation's health, wealth, and security rely on the production and distribution of certain goods and services. The array of physical assets, functions, and systems across which these goods and services move are called critical infrastructures (e.g., electricity, the power plants that generate it, and the electric grid upon which it is distributed). […]. Following the events of September 11, the Bush Administration released Executive Order 13228, signed October 8, 2001, establishing the Office of Homeland Security. Among its duties, the Office shall 'coordinate efforts to protect the United States and its critical infrastructure from the consequences of terrorist attacks.' […]. In June 2006, the Bush Administration released a National Infrastructure Protection Plan. This Plan presents the process by which the Department of Homeland Security intends to identify those specific assets most critical to the United States, across all sectors, based on the risk associated with their loss to attack or natural disaster, and then to prioritize activities aimed at maximizing the reduction of those risks for a given investment. This report discusses in more detail the evolution of a national critical infrastructure policy and the institutional structures established to implement it. The report highlights five issues of Congressional concern: identifying critical assets; assessing vulnerabilities and risks; allocating resources; information sharing; and, regulation."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30153