Critical Infrastructure Protection:

Significant Homeland Security Challenges Need to Be Addressed

GAO-02-918T: Published: Jul 9, 2002. Publicly Released: Jul 9, 2002.

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On June 18, the President transmitted draft legislation to Congress for the creation of a Department of Homeland Security to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recovery from attacks that do occur. As proposed, functions of the Homeland Security Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Division would include (1) receiving and analyzing law enforcement information, intelligence, and other information to detect and identify potential threats; (2) assessing the vulnerabilities of the key resources and critical infrastructures; (3) developing a comprehensive national plan for securing these resources and infrastructures; and (4) taking necessary measures to protect these resources and infrastructures, in coordination with other executive agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector. To create this division, six federal organizations that currently play a pivotal role in the protection of national critical infrastructures would be transferred to the new department. Potential benefits for this division include more efficient, effective, and coordinated programs; better control of funding through a single appropriation for the new department and through establishing budget priorities for transferred functions based on their homeland security mission; and the consolidation of points of contact for federal agencies, state and local government, and the private sector in coordinating activities to protect the homeland. Finally, the new department will also face challenges, such as developing a national critical infrastructure protection strategy, improving analytical and warning capabilities, improving information sharing on threats and vulnerabilities, and addressing pervasive weaknesses in federal information security.

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