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Expect more investment in S&L critical infrastructure protection

When it comes to trying to figure out what the Obama administration--or any administration, for that matter--has planned for a given function of state and local government, it's easy to make one of two mistakes.

1. Taking the administration at its word – That is, believing what the administration says is or will be a priority will actually be so.

2. Reading too much into what is or isn't said – Trying to read tea leaves is always risky. Government is a messy business and it's easy to read too much (or too little) intent into statements that end up vague and/or contradictory after being run through the sausage-maker of bureaucratic politics.

So, what's a sure-fire indicator of intent? Staffing up.

I read in an obscure article that DHS's National Protection and Programs Directorate (PPD), which includes the Office of Intergovernmental Programs (OIP), hired 300 people last year and is looking to add 621 more this year. This will include 71 new workers in cybersecurity and will bring the directorate's total workforce to 2,710 by September 30, 2010.

One thing is for sure, DHS isn't hiring all of the folks to twiddle their thumbs. Critical infrastructure protection (CIP) is second only to emergency response in requiring federal-state-local coordination. States and localities operate and/or provide day-to-day protection for many critical infrastructure components, including mass transit systems, utilities, medical facilities, air/sea ports, education campuses, emergency operations centers (EOCs), data centers, and prisons (among many others). CIP was important to the Bush administration, but it had to take a back seat to more immediate concerns at the airports (TSA), borders (SBI), and drivers licensing offices (REAL ID). The cybersecurity subcomponent, however, was even farther down the list of priorities than CIP and never really gained any traction during the Bush years.

GovWin will be watching for more specific development in this area. For now, vendors should begin looking at their relevance to state and local CIP and making plans for 2010 and beyond as CIP moves up DHS's priority list. Don't forget to review GovWin's research on the recent federal stimulus for Justice/Public Safety and Homeland Security for some early insights into the Obama administration's funding priorities in this area.

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