DHS limits public discussion of infrastructure protection plan

Published 17 November 2005

DHS on 2 November released a draft of its National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), inexplicably providing only a two-week window — ending today — for requesting a copy of the plan and a thirty-day public comment period (ending 5 December). The report’s authors say that the 175-page report offers a “comprehensive, integrated national plan for the protection of critical infrastructures and key resources.” One would be forgiven for not guessing this from the time constraints on viewing and commenting. The NIPP Program Management Office rejected a request by OMB Watch and others to extend the comment period by sixty days with no explanation for its decision. In a federal register notice, without an accompanying press release, DHS informed the public of the availability of the draft NIPP along with instructions for obtaining a copy for review.

The report was commissioned by the president in December 2003, and DHS has been very harshly criticized for the delays in issuing it. We may only guess that after so much criticism, DHS now wants to narrow the window for public scrutiny of the document so as to minimize additional possible criticism.

The plan proposes partnerships between private industry and government agencies and identifies seventeen infrastructure sectors in need of protection. DHS said it would offer a sector-specific set of plans 180 days for public comments after the approval of the national plan.

-read more in this OMB Watch report