As part of its mission to protect US infrastructure, the Department of Homeland Security develops and deploys an array of security infrastructure systems designed to assess, ferret out, and thwart as many real-world risks as possible.
The Department must keep American infrastructure secure and resilient enough to withstand and recover from all conceivable dangers. DHS focuses on infrastructure elements that provide essential services to support society and keep the nation safe and prosperous.
To accomplish this, DHS encourages shared responsibility among Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial authorities, as well as cooperative arrangements with private owners and operators of important infrastructure.
The Department operates, in part, under Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21), which identifies 16 critical infrastructure sectors:
- Critical Manufacturing
- Dams, navigation locks, levees, hurricane barriers, mine tailings impoundments, and/or water retention, and/or control facilities.
- Commercial Facilities
- Defense industries, encompassing both research and development, and weapons design, production, delivery, and maintenance.
- Emergency services, providing the nation's first line of defense against all types of attacks, incidents, and natural disasters.
- Financial Services
- Food and Agriculture
- Government Facilities
- Healthcare and Public Health
- Information Technology
- Water and Wastewater Systems
Based on a National Infrastructure Protection Plan, DHS encourages true partnership between government and private participants in an effort to cost-effectively manage risks and to continuously realize the nation's infrastructure security goals.
Over the years, this approach has evolved toward a streamlined methodology that is easily adaptable to changing risks, policies, and strategic environments.
At the present time, Homeland Security Advisors (HSAs), State Administrative Agencies (SAAs), Urban Area Working Groups (UAWGs), regional groups and coalitions, and other agencies all share some level of responsibility for US infrastructure security. Dubbed "critical infrastructure and key resources," or CIKRs, these partners take on a variety of roles and responsibilities, depending on whether or not they are involved with cross-border issues, including the specific ways DHS addresses, manages, and funds their particular areas of concern.
In all cases, DHS seeks to mitigate, neutralize, deter, or even prevent negative impacts from any attack, natural disaster, or other emergency that might destroy or incapacitate US infrastructure. It also looks to improve the nation's preparedness, timely response capabilities, and rapid recovery potential from such events.
DHS's National Infrastructure Protection Plan, augmented by Sector-Specific Plans for each of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors, describes a comprehensive risk analysis and management framework for the entire nation.
To do this, it clearly defines roles and responsibilities not only for the DHS, but for other CIKR partners. It coordinates the establishment of national priorities, goals, and requirements for infrastructure protection. Perhaps most importantly, the Plan also seeks to ensure the effective application of funding and other resources.
Although the task is monumental and the risks both diverse and complex, DHS and its CIKR partners have become adept at creating and maintaining a highly protective barrier around our nation's critical infrastructure, including many elements that are most visible and important to the general public.