Critical Infrastructures: What Makes an Infrastructure Critical? [August 30, 2002] [open pdf - 78KB]
The Bush Administration's proposal for establishing a Department of Homeland Security includes a function whose responsibilities include the coordination of policies and actions to protect the nation's critical infrastructure. However, the proposal did not specify criteria for how to determine criticality or which infrastructures should be considered critical. Over the last few years, a number of documents concerned with critical infrastructure protection have offered general definitions for critical infrastructures and have provided short lists of which infrastructures should be included. Critical infrastructures now include national monuments (e.g. Washington Monument), where an attack might cause a large loss of life or adversely affect the nation's morale. They also include the chemical industry. Essentially the federal government will have to try to minimize the impact on the nation's critical infrastructure of any future terrorist attack, taking into account what those impacts might be and the likelihood of their occurring, and will set priorities for critical infrastructure protection based on a consistent methodology and an approach that will allow it to balance the cost and expected benefits.
CRS Report for Congress, RL31556