An outbreak of pandemic flu would require close cooperation between the public and private sectors to ensure the protection of our nation's critical infrastructure, such as drinking water and electricity. Because over 85 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, it is vital that both sectors effectively coordinate to successfully protect these assets. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for coordinating a national protection strategy and government and private sector councils have been created as a collaborating tool. GAO was asked to assess how the federal and private sectors are working together at a national level to protect the nation's critical infrastructure in the event of a pandemic, the challenges they face, and opportunities for addressing these challenges. GAO reviewed 5 of the 17 critical infrastructure sectors. These 5 sectors are energy (electricity), food and agriculture, telecommunications, transportation (highway and motor carrier), and water.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Homeland Security||To help the nation better protect critical infrastructure in the event of an influenza pandemic and to build on the progress made thus far, the Secretary of Homeland Security, working with sector-specific agencies, should lead efforts to encourage the government and private sector members of the councils to consider and help address the challenges that will require coordination between the federal and private sectors involved with critical infrastructure and within the various sectors in advance of, as well as during, a pandemic.|