Helping a Presidential Advisory Council to Design a Framework for Sector Resilience

Client: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Infrastructure Protection, in support of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC)
critical infrastructure-bridge NIAC resilience construct graphic framework for establishing resilience goals graphic NIAC resilience goals recommendations-report pages A Framework for Establishing Critical Infrastructure Resilenece Goals report cover

Project Overview

Nexight Group’s Jack Eisenhauer led the support of a high-profile study of resilience in the electric and nuclear sectors that identified ways to improve sector resilience and developed a method for establishing resilience goals in critical infrastructure sectors.

Need

Even the best planning cannot predict or prevent every disaster. To manage risk in turbulent environments, leading companies have learned that they must build in resilience—the ability to take a hit, continue operating critical functions, and restore quickly. The administration asked the NIAC, a presidential advisory council, to examine resilience strategies and recommend a process for setting resilience goals in critical infrastructure sectors.

Our Solution

We led support to a NIAC Study Group composed of 14 senior electric utility executives to develop a sector resilience framework and test it using an intensive tabletop exercise. The electric and nuclear sectors served as case studies in the year-long study. We gathered initial insights by interviewing 18 executives and led an analysis team to design a framework for setting resilience goals that could be tested in the electric sector case study. With goals drafted, we conducted an all-day tabletop “stress test” of a local utility system and its regional electric grid under an extreme disaster scenario to uncover potential gaps. Nexight Group used the results of the tabletop exercise to facilitate an all-day CEO Roundtable discussion, in which executives examined infrastructure failures and considered new practices and policies for industry and government that could better inform resilience goals, and ultimately enhance resilience in the electric and nuclear sectors. This approach developed a robust process that each sector could follow: setting resilience goals, testing them under stress to reveal gaps and seams, and identifying public and private roles to enhance resilience and refine goals. Our analysts helped write an 80-page report with extensive findings and recommendations from the study.

Impact

Acting on one of the report’s recommendations, electric sector CEOs have initiated an executive-level dialogue with the White House, and are using this platform to address priority resilience needs in the sector. The recommendations in the report were accepted by the White House and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and are now being used to design resilience programs and shape national policy.