Feds to expand critical infrastructure review team

Federal officials plan to expand the team of experts reviewing agencies' plans to protect their critical computer systems as ordered by President Clinton last year.

The Expert Review Team—composed of nine federal employees from agencies such as the General Services Administration, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Energy Department—recently completed reviewing the first 18 plans, which included the FBI, NSA, DOE, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the departments of Commerce, Defense, Treasury and State. The review was a exhausting process, and the team is looking for additional members to help in the next review, said Tom Burke, assistant commissioner of GSA's Office of Information Security, which was the lead office for the federal initiative.

Next, the team will review eight plans from the departments of Agriculture, Education, Interior, Labor, Housing and Urban Development and NASA as well as GSA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. All but one plan has been submitted.

The review is part of Clinton's initiative to form a national plan to protect the nation's key infrastructure, which includes telecommunications, banking and finance, electric power, transportation, gas and oil, emergency services and government services. Clinton established the Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection to oversee the initiative, and in May 1998 the commission became the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office.

The CIAO created the Expert Review Team to share best practices, identify problems with agency plans and help prioritize the challenges that agencies face in protecting key computer systems, said Jeffrey Hunker, director of the CIAO, which coordinates all public- and private-sector efforts to comply with the national plan to protect the key services on which the country relies.

GSA and the CIAO also are working with the CIO Council and the Office of Management and Budget to create and fund a permanent Expert Review Team because agency critical infrastructure protection plans will continue to be reviewed in the future, as directed by Clinton, Burke said.

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