Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy, and Implementation

The nation’s health, wealth, and security rely on the production and distribution of certain goods and services. The array of physical assets, functions, and systems across which these goods and services move are called critical infrastructures (e.g., electricity, the power plants that generate it, and the electric grid upon which it is distributed). The national security community has been concerned for some time about the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to both physical and cyberattack. In May 1998, President Clinton released Presidential Decision Directive No. 63. The Directive set up groups within the federal government to develop and implement plans that would protect government-operated infrastructures and called for a dialogue between government and the private sector to develop a National Infrastructure Assurance Plan that would protect all of the nation’s critical infrastructures by the year 2003. While the Directive called for both physical and cyber protection from both man-made and natural events, implementation focused on cyber protection against man-made cyber events (i.e., computer hackers). Following the destruction and disruptions caused by the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the nation directed increased attention toward physical protection of critical infrastructures. Over the intervening years, policy, programs, and legislation related to physical security of critical infrastructure have stabilized to a large extent. However, current legislative activity has refocused on cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. This report discusses in more detail the evolution of a national critical infrastructure policy and the institutional structures established to implement it. The report highlights two primary issues confronting Congress going forward, both in the context of cybersecurity: information sharing and regulation.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This report is updated periodically while the text remains available at the URL indicated above. The actual date of publication, pagination, and other features may differ from that indicated in this record.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Congressional Research Service

    Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20540-7500
  • Authors:
    • Moteff, John D
  • Publication Date: 2014-2-21


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Tables;
  • Pagination: 39p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01529337
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: RL30153
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 17 2014 9:06AM