U.S. panel recommends strategic approach to BuRec security

A National Research Council committee has issued a report recommending the Bureau of Reclamation take a more strategic approach to the security program for BuRec’s 249 water resource projects.

At BuRec’s request, the National Research Council of National Academies appointed an investigative committee of 14 experts from various disciplines. The panel assessed BuRec’s security program to determine the organization’s level of preparedness to deter, respond to, and recover from malicious threats to its physical infrastructure and to the people who use and manage it.

BuRec operates 249 water resource projects in the western United States, including 479 dams, dikes, and related facilities. Five of the dams are �national critical infrastructure� facilities, 198.72-MW Folsom Dam and 710-MW Shasta Dam in California, 1,312-MW Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, 2,078.8-MW Hoover Dam in Nevada and Arizona, and 6,809-MW Grand Coulee Dam in Washington.

The committee concluded BuRec is better able to protect its infrastructure and its people against malicious acts than in the past. However, it also concluded the security program is not yet mature, well-integrated, or appropriately supported at all levels of the organization.

To date, the committee said, BuRec has focused on tactical issues: developing a risk management approach; establishing security plans for each facility; staffing a security and law enforcement office; and developing an intelligence gathering and analysis capability.

Still missing, it said, are policies and operational guidance for effective responses to security-related incidents; performance measures to support continual improvement; and a method for disseminating lessons learned. Also missing are the full support and commitment of senior executives and managers at all levels and adequate resources — staff, expertise, and funding — to develop a robust and sustainable security program.

The committee said one of the organization’s highest priorities should be the development of a vision that explicitly links the physical assurance of BuRec facilities to its overall mission of providing water and power.

Other recommendations include development of:
o An expanded process for security assessments;
o Policy on the use of deadly force;
o Response plans for security-related incidents;
o A streamlined personal identity verification process; and
o Procedures on the sharing of intelligence-based information.

An executive summary of the committee’s report, Assessment of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Security Program, can be obtained from the National Academies Press Internet site, www.nap.edu, under www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12463.

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