Critical Infrastructure Resilience: The Evolution of Policy and Programs and Issues for Congress [August 23, 2012]   [open pdf - 342KB]

"In 2006, the Critical Infrastructure Task Force of the Homeland Security Advisory Council initiated a public policy debate arguing that the government's critical infrastructure policies were focused too much on protecting assets from terrorist attacks and not focused enough on improving the resilience of assets against a variety of threats. According to the Task Force, such a defensive posture was 'brittle.' Not all possible targets could be protected and adversaries could find ways to defeat defenses, still leaving the nation having to deal with the consequences. The Task Force advocated that greater encouragement for resilience would broaden the range of risk reduction options and should be the overarching policy framework for reducing risks associated with all threats to critical infrastructure. Others in the homeland security community agreed. Critical infrastructure are those assets the loss of which would result in great harm to the nation's security, economy, health and safety, and morale. They include assets necessary to generate and distribute such basic goods and services such as electricity, drinking water, telecommunications, banking and finance, etc. Resilience refers to the ability of a system to resist, absorb, recover from, or successfully adapt to a change in environment or conditions. The Task Force argued that government policies encouraged employing greater defenses such as surveillance equipment, guards, etc., around these assets but did less to encourage efforts that would allow assets to continue operating at some level, or quickly return to full operation, if attacked."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R42683
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