In my blog last week “Opportunity Knocking,” I pointed out that while the administration is focusing on Economic Stimulus packages, getting its leadership in place, reviewing programs, and settling in for the next four years, we can’t lose sight of our immediate Homeland Security priorities. Secretary Napolitano and her team are heavily engaged in reviewing the department’s programs (they are asking the right questions), aligning mission priorities with economic reality (OMB’s estimated $3billion cut in DHS funding), and still trying to find their way around the NAC.
In the meantime – our nation is on the brink of financial disaster – not as a result of attacks on our financial centers from terrorists hiding in caves in Afghanistan” but from a few irresponsible and greedy managers sitting comfortably in their executive offices on Wall Street and elsewhere. It is sadly ironic that the image of Wall Street as the leader of our national pride and recovery right after 9-11, has deteriorated to a symbol of financial greed that is now leading our nation to ruin. So while Washington is “planning” and Wall Street is “bailing”, the terrorists have the luxury of picking the ideal target and timing to strike another blow to this nation. However, this time we won’t have the financial cushion to absorb it as we did in the aftermath of September 11.
That all sounds pretty bad – but this isn’t about what Washington should do – there are people a lot smarter than me who are talking about that. While everyone else is planning and legislating and hoping for a change, the focus of this blog and the following series that I am contributing is on what those of us in the private sector security community and outside of the beltway can do.
As the first Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security, I spent my time focusing on these very issues — not only what the government can do, but what the private sector can do. From the moment we first stood up DHS, the entire leadership made the case and operated under the principle that a successful homeland security model required a true partnership with the private sector. That meant going beyond simple advisory committees but developing programs in which the government and private sector could work together, as well as acknowledging that — with more than 80 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure being owned by the private sector — those outside of government had just as much at stake and spent just as much time looking for solutions to protect that infrastructure.
Over the next several weeks, I will affirm the business case that security is a corporate asset and will present some concepts and tactics to help those of you in the private sector charged with protecting your companies from the myriad of threats. I’m not suggesting for a moment I have all the answers, but I am suggesting that we need to take concrete action now while your companies are the most vulnerable – to bolster the great work you are already doing and at the same time drive value in the company.
A disclaimer: My company, Steel City Re, is deeply engaged in the business of protecting intangible assets and corporate reputations and therefore I will be borrowing from our corporate experience and philosophy.