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Highlights

As Hurricane Katrina so forcefully demonstrated, the nation's critical infrastructures--both physical and cyber--have been vulnerable to a wide variety of threats. Because about 85 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector, it is vital that the public and private sectors work together to protect these assets. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for coordinating a national protection strategy including formation of government and private sector councils as a collaborating tool. The councils, among other things, are to identify their most critical assets, assess the risks they face, and identify protective measures, in sector-specific plans that comply with DHS's National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP). This testimony is based primarily on GAO's October 2006 sector council report and a body of work on cyber critical infrastructure protection. Specifically, it addresses (1) the extent to which these councils have been established, (2) key facilitating factors and challenges affecting the formation of the council, (3) key facilitating factors and challenges encountered in developing sector plans, and (4) the status of DHS's efforts to fulfill key cybersecurity responsibilities. GAO has made previous recommendations, particularly in the area of cybersecurity that have not been fully implemented. Continued monitoring will determine whether further recommendations are warranted.

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