Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano hosted a roundtable meeting with critical infrastructure leaders on Monday to discuss homeland security, the current threat perspective and the department's interest in working with the private sector. IDFA Vice President Clay Detlefsen attended the meeting, which was the third in a series of meetings held by DHS in the past two weeks.
"Securing our nation's critical infrastructure is vital to maintaining the safety of communities across the country," Napolitano said. "DHS is committed to working with federal, state, local, territorial and tribal partners, the private sector and the public to protect against threats to these assets - from cyber networks to drinking water."
Napolitano highlighted her commitment to protecting the nation's critical infrastructure by promoting vigilance, preparedness and risk reduction. She also unveiled a new Web site, www.dhs.gov/criticalinfrastructure, designed to provide stakeholders and the public with easily accessible information about their roles in safeguarding America's assets, systems and networks.
"We certainly commend Secretary Napolitano for spending a significant amount of time with private sector partners to allow open and meaningful dialogue on these critical issues. It was clear that she was very interested in our comments," said Detlefsen, who serves as the lead dairy industry advisor on food defense to DHS.
IDFA has played a critical role in the Food and Agricultural Sector Coordinating Council (FASCC), a presidentially mandated partnership between government and the private sector, since its formation six years ago. Detlefsen currently serves as the council's co-chair.
Other members of the council include, but are not limited to, the American Frozen Food Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Board and National Restaurant Association.
There are a total of 18 Sector Coordinating Councils, representing key areas such as food and water, manufacturing, energy, communications and transportation systems, and emergency services. DHS frequently engages with these private sector partners to coordinate security efforts.
During Monday's meeting, Detlefsen urged the secretary to provide the private sector partnerships with more visibility among other government agencies as well as the public.
"Too few know too little about the activities and accomplishments of the 18 sectors," said Detlefsen, "and enhanced visibility and recognition could improve matters significantly."
On Wednesday, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring December 2009 to be "critical infrastructure protection month." The Presidential proclamation underscores the importance of the ongoing work and achievements of all partners -- in the private sector and in the government -- in protecting and ensuring the resilience of the nation's critical infrastructure and key resources.