By Alice Lipowicz
The Homeland Security Department is not giving enough time for the
public and for industry members to comment on its draft National
Infrastructure Protection Plan, according to OMB Watch, a
Washington-based government watchdog group.
The department released the 175-page document  Nov. 2. It offers a
comprehensive plan for involving private-sector owners and operators
of infrastructure in 17 distinct sectors, such as water, power, food
and transportation, in the nation's homeland security. DHS allowed 15
days for requesting a copy and 30 days for public comment, until Dec.
However, that may be too little time. "The time constraints on viewing
and commenting on it do not allow for substantive public review or
response," said OMB Watch in a press release. "Given the extensive
nature of the report, as well as the importance of the subject matter,
it seems clear that additional time should be allotted to allow for
greater public input."
OMB Watch said in the release that DHS rejected its request to extend
the comment period by 60 days.
Several IT executives also are critical of the limited time allowed
The protection plan has "a tight time frame," said Peter Allor,
director of intelligence for Internet Security Systems Inc. of
Atlanta, and director of operations for the IT Information Sharing and
Analysis Center, which was set up to work with DHS for
information-sharing with the IT industry. "It will be a challenge to
have to work within those constraints."
Several IT industry leaders are asking for an extension to Feb. 5,
2006, according to Larry Clinton, chief operating officer of the
Internet Security Alliance, a nonprofit organization fostering IT
Both Clinton and Allor are members of an executive advisory board of
the newly formed IT Sector Coordinating Council. The council was
formed at DHS' direction to represent the IT industry in policy
discussions with the department. Membership in the coordinating
council is open to executives in companies in the IT industry, who are
invited to sign up at the group's Web site .
Initial working groups are focused on administration, strategy and
coordination with federal planning. The coordinating council will hold
its first meeting in early 2006 to approve a charter, governance and
structure, a news release issued Nov. 14 said.
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