Helping a Presidential Advisory Council Examine Security and Resilience in the Water Sector

Client: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Infrastructure Protection, in support of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC)
A sewage treatment plant. An infographic showing various icons of government sectors with descriptions of how water service disruptions can affect them. An image of people in discussion while gathered around laptops The cover of the Water Sector Resilience Report.

Project Overview

Nexight Group provided research, analysis, facilitation, and strategic planning to support the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) Water Sector Resilience Study, which included key recommendations to improve the security and resilience of the Nation’s water infrastructure.

Need

Water and wastewater are critical lifeline services that sustain human health and economic security. A loss of safe drinking water and wastewater services can cripple other critical infrastructure and result in cascading effects across a community or region. The NIAC was charged with recommending how the government could improve the security and resilience of the nation’s Water Sector. Six NIAC executives formed a Working Group and directed a 16-member Study Group of national experts to conduct the study. The Working Group needed to quickly understand the current risk landscape, engage with subject matter experts and thought leaders, reach consensus on meaningful findings, and develop impactful recommendations—all within a nine-month time period.

Our Solution

Nexight’s expert analysis and experience in executive-level facilitation and interviews provided critical support to the NIAC’s study. To meet the NIAC’s need and tight time frame, we created staff teams to support the Study Group, Working Group, and research efforts; created a detailed study plan and identified key milestones; and worked closely with our federal lead to ensure all products were delivered on time and met required compliance standards. Nexight’s team:

  • Conducted more than 70 interviews with thought leaders, national experts, owners and operators, and government representatives from the federal to local level, which provided a wealth of original insights that our team supplemented with open-source research of nearly 300 sources (including reports, studies, videos, news articles, testimonies, and policy directives).
  • Conducted eight Study Group panel discussions with subject matter experts and led a case study scenario work session to evaluate a series of high-impact events on water infrastructure resilience that provided the Working Group with key findings to inform their study.
  • Synthesized and presented large amounts of data to busy executives and facilitated Working Group deliberations to help them develop and support findings and recommendations.
  • Developed briefing decks and talking points to help the Working Group present study progress and results at NIAC Quarterly Business Meetings.

The nine-month study resulted in a 200-page report capturing key trends and themes from comprehensive research, insightful findings, and five robust recommendations to the president aimed at driving action.

Impact

The report and study recommendations were sent to the President in June 2016. The administration, federal agencies, and private sector are now using the report’s insights and recommendations to guide resilience decisions and enhance partnerships in the Water Sector.