May 2, 2012 by Rich Cooper
A significant part of America’s homeland security efforts is preparing to resist, mitigate and recover from disasters manmade and natural (i.e., resilience). With the private sector owning the vast majority of U.S. infrastructure, as well as the critical role businesses play in the community and the economy, private sector preparedness has long been a priority, since the 9/11 Commission issued its final report. It has taken a long time, however, for DHS’ Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Program to gain momentum. Here is a piece I wrote for Defense Media Network about PS-Prep and the challenges to establishing preparedness standards.
There are more than enough reasons to applaud the fact that AT&T Inc. was named as the first private sector company to be certified to DHS’ Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Program (PS-Prep). It’s been a long time coming.
Since the issuance of the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report and its endorsement of ANSI/NFPA 1600 as a voluntary preparedness standard in July 2004, the road traveled on the issue of private sector preparedness standards has been as adventurous as it has been bumpy and problematic.
Challenges encountered getting to this point have included the lack of appropriated funds by Congress to support the effort; internal turf battles within DHS for program jurisdiction and responsibility; and finger-pointing and political posturing by a select few interests who seemed more enchanted with hearing themselves speak than working cooperatively with others. Add to this dysfunctional soup recipe the lack of visible or proactive support by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and her senior leadership team beyond the boilerplate rhetoric of “we care about the private sector” and we have a program that has literally put one point on the board after nearly four years of existence.
With a track record like this, PS-Prep has made the Washington Wizards look like Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in their prime, and we all know how impressive the Wizards are don’t we?
There are some truly good and great people that have worked very hard to make the PS-Prep Program work despite all of the odds against it. I had the honor of working with a number of these folks when I was in DHS and after I left it in September of 2007. I consider many of those people close friends for whom I have tremendous respect, and always will, but I can’t say I’m heartened by this announcement of this one company making its way across the finish line.
The fact it took more than four years to get to this point is an embarrassment of epic proportions. I’m not about to pile on friends and former colleagues for this delay in progress.
Read the full article.