How the Energy Dept. is operationalizing emergency response

Royalty-free stock photo ID: 641963182 By 4kclips Department of Energy in Washington - WASHINGTON DC / COLUMBIA - APRIL 7, 2017 

The head of the Energy Department's energy security office is looking to build relationships with emergency response and cybersecurity agencies at the Department of Homeland Security to sharpen overall government and private-sector awareness of cyber and physical threats.

"We're a brand new office in a big agency," Karen Evans, the assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) at DOE, said in a conference call with reporters on Sept. 18.

Evans, who was sworn into the position on Sept. 4, said CESER has been working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and DHS to help get power company crews into the areas of the Carolinas hit by Hurricane Florence.

CESER, she said, has set up staff and facilities to "mirror" FEMA's response centers in the Mid-Atlantic states, as well as state emergency centers in the Carolinas, to help restore power. CESER helped getting tens of thousands of utility workers prepositioned to respond to the storm.

Down the road, Evans said she is looking to work with other agencies tasked with cybersecurity issues, including the Department of Transportation, as well as DHS.

"We're looking for ways to work with DHS" to identify possible gaps in that agency's National Protection and Programs Directorate infrastructure protection responsibilities.

"I look forward to working with NPPD" to set an example of how a sector-specific agency can roll situational awareness of its sector up into the DHS agency's broader landscape," she said.

CESER is seen as important link for providing situational awareness to the federal government and private sector. DOE has also been ramping up its efforts to help the mostly privately held energy infrastructure with cybersecurity resources.

In August, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said his agency was aiming to double the number of electric utilities in its Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program  this year.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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