House Committee Takes Up Cyber Consequence Management

Yesterday (April 14, 2016), representatives from FEMA, DOE, DHS, and other interested stakeholders testified before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.  The hearing was titled Blackout! Are We Prepared to Manage the Aftermath of a Cyber-Attack or other Failure of the Electrical Grid?

While most of the testimony spoke to needs, threats, and redundancies in the electric sector, some of the discussion should serve as food for thought for the water community.  For example, should there be a major incident (intentional or natural disaster) which Federal Agency would be in charge?  FEMA, DHS, and DOE all have critical response and recovery roles but how would they coordinate and collaborate?  How would conflicting priorities and directives be resolved?  From a different perspective, what would a local community’s response look like during a cyber-based power loss?  Recommendations were made that electric grid operators revise plans to consider longer outage periods that could be combined with a physical attack.  Other suggestions noted that initial response actions wouldn’t be that different from any other disaster response but that decisionmakers need to think beyond immediate actions and have a plan in place to meet customer and community demand beyond the first 72 hours and possibly as long as two or more weeks.  These cautions apply equally well to the water community.

You can view the hearing here http://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=400038.  This link also includes individual witness testimony and an opening statement by Subcommittee Chair Lou Barletta (R-PA).

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