Since 2004, the Department has maintained robust infrastructure protection field operations through the Protective Security Advisor (PSA) program.
PSAs are trained critical infrastructure protection and vulnerability mitigation subject matter experts. Regional Directors are Supervisory PSAs, responsible for the activities of eight or more PSAs and geospatial analysts, who ensure all Office of Infrastructure Protection critical infrastructure protection programs and services are delivered to state, local, territorial, and tribal stakeholders and private sector owners and operators.
Regional Directors and PSAs also conduct specialized site visits and provide information and guidance on critical infrastructure issues.
As of December 2010, 93 Regional Directors and PSAs were deployed in 74 districts within 50 states and Puerto Rico.
The PSA program focuses on three core areas:
- Enhancing Infrastructure Protection
- Assisting with Incident Management
- Facilitating Information Sharing
Enhancing Infrastructure Protection
Regional Directors and PSAs provide an invaluable on-the-ground perspective to the Department’s national risk picture by identifying, assessing, monitoring, and minimizing risk to critical infrastructure at the regional and local levels. They also assist law enforcement and state homeland security advisors with ongoing state and local critical infrastructure security efforts such as local exercises and planning initiatives.
Regional Directors and PSAs support security planning and coordination for National Special Security Events and other large scale special events, including political meetings and economic summits (such as the G-20), sporting events (national championship games and series), and other national level special events.
Assisting With Incident Management
Because Regional Directors and PSAs are strategically located across the country, they are often the first Department personnel to respond and deploy to emergencies and disasters. During an incident, they frequently work within state and local Emergency Operations Centers and at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Joint Field Office, where they:
- Advise the Department and other government and private sector representatives on interdependencies, cascading effects, and damage assessments concerning impacted critical infrastructure.
- Help owners and operators, law enforcement personnel, and state and local officials prioritize and coordinate re-entry and recovery activities.
During the 2008 response to back-to-back Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, 32 PSAs were deployed from around the country to assist the impacted areas regular PSAs. This team helped reduce the extent of damage to critical infrastructure and hasten reconstitution and recovery. For example, they advised Department and other officials in real time on anticipated storm impacts to critical infrastructure and on how best to harness federal resources for the protection and reconstitution of infrastructure.
Facilitating Information Sharing
Regional Directors and PSAs facilitate information sharing among all levels of government and the private sector. During steady-state (normal) operations, they conduct briefings and outreach meetings with critical infrastructure protection partners, help private sector personnel obtain security clearances, and disseminate critical infrastructure-related information such as protective measures reports.
Owner/Operator Requests. Regional Directors and PSAs also coordinate requests from owners and operators concerning Department programs and assistance, arrange for risk mitigation training, prepare critical infrastructure analytical reports and verification, and conduct security and vulnerability assessments.
Strengthening Regional Resilience. Regional Directors and PSAs actively promote and facilitate regional collaboration and information sharing, through the Regional Resilience Assessment Program (RRAP) and dedicated outreach to provide access to infrastructure protection (IP) programs and resources. RRAP evaluates critical infrastructure in specific geographic regions to examine vulnerabilities, threats, and potential consequences from an all-hazards perpective. RRAP assessments identify regional critical infrastructure dependencies, interdependencies, cascading effects and critical systems' ability to recover quickly from an event. More about regional partnerships and mission collaboration.
During Incidents. Regional Directors and PSAs are an important conduit of information on critical infrastructure response, recovery, and reconstitution resources. To inform decisionmaking, they provide real-time data on ground conditions to the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center; Department leadership; and state, local, and private sector representatives.
Regional Directors and PSAs communicate directly with critical infrastructure owners and operators to assess damage to facilities and identify interdependencies and cascading effects, allowing responders to accurately prioritize and coordinate re-entry and reconstitution efforts.
For example, during the response to Hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2008, PSAs worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize generator requests from private industry, which allowed key industries to return to operation faster than anticipated. They also worked with Customs and Border Protection to organize helicopter over-flights for power companies survey of transmission lines. The flights captured imagery and data that permitted the companies to restore power faster than previously possible.