Infrastructure plans called 'woefully unready'

Infrastructure plans called 'woefully unready'

Several senators today criticized the government's fragmented organization for defending critical infrastructures, calling for better leadership and clearer lines of authority and accountability.

'We are woefully unready now,' Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) said at a hearing of the Governmental Affairs Committee.

'We've got a bigger job than we realized,' Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) said. That's bad news, he said, because 'government basically cannot seem to manage large projects very well.'

Heads of the National Infrastructure Protection Center, the Federal Computer Incident Response Center and the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office came before the committee to explain their roles in guarding the nation's transportation, energy, financial and communications infrastructures, and the networks that connect them.

Committee members noted there seemed to be little coordination.

'I defy anybody today to tell me where the responsibility lies for any of this,' Thompson said.

CIAO director John Tritak said that under the 1998 Presidential Decision Directive 63, Richard Clarke of the National Security Council had responsibility for overseeing CIAO and NIPC.

Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) expressed concern that the authority was vested in the council, in which Congress has no say. 'That's a challenge to us,' Cleland said.

'All of this is under review,' Tritak said. President Bush ordered a review of infrastructure protection policy in May, and 'we're very close to completing that,' Tritak said, although many people working on it have been busy dealing with last month's terrorist attacks.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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