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Date: Aug. 19, 2008
Contacts: Rebecca Alvania, Media Relations Officer
Alison Burnette, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Federally Managed Dams Need Better Security
WASHINGTON -- Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), which operates and manages dams that provide water and power to millions of people, has invested significant resources in security and is better able to protect its facilities and personnel, says a new report from the National Research Council. However, BOR needs better communication among security staff, regional and area office staff, and local law enforcement personnel; security plans that are designed to meet realistic, site-specific threats; and more consistent support within the organization. The bureau should take a more strategic approach to its security program and develop a long-term plan that addresses policy, programmatic, and resource issues, said the committee that wrote the report.
There are approximately 80,000 dams in the U.S. today, many of which would become significant hazards if they should fail. Of these, BOR operates and manages 479 dams and dikes in 17 states, including five national critical infrastructure facilities: Hoover, Grand Coulee, Folsom, Shasta, and Glen Canyon dams. Because of the wide geographical region serviced, BOR has a largely decentralized organizational structure and relies on partnerships with local contractors and regional and area office staff for day-to-day dam operations. In contrast, the security system put in place after Sept. 11, 2001, is centralized in the Security, Safety, and Law Enforcement Office, located in Denver. This difference in organizational structures has seriously impeded communications and working relationships between the Denver-based security staff and the regional and area BOR personnel (see findings 17-21).
The decentralized operations of BOR mean that the first responders to a security incident are local law enforcement, although Hoover Dam has an on-site police department and Grand Coulee Dam has a security force trained as first reponders. The chain of command during a security-related incident is unclear, says the report, and the proper procedures for security response are not well understood by BOR's regional and area office staff. In addition, the distinction between security and law enforcement is unclear, resulting in ambiguities regarding the use of deadly force during a security-related incident.
Since 2001, BOR has installed cameras, fences, and other design measures; hired security guards at some facilities; closed certain roads that cross dams; and formulated security and threat assessments. However, BOR security has evaluated only a limited number of standard threat scenarios to date. Because BOR's dams are in different settings, the types of threats that facilities can encounter are various. The report says that in the future, BOR should use intelligence-based information to develop site-specific and realistic scenarios for individual facilities.
BOR also has not adequately addressed the threat posed by insiders, including its own staff, facility operators, and contractors. The committee said that security defenses appear "brittle" and "lacking in depth" and could be overridden, allowing an intruder to take control of dam operations. To improve security, BOR needs to implement bureauwide policies regarding site access and the safeguarding of project plans and drawings. The agency also needs to streamline the identity verification process for employees and contractors; regional staff reported that identity checks can take as long as six to eight months.
To create an effective and sustainable security program at BOR, increased staff, expertise, and funding are needed. Folsom Dam, which sits outside of Sacramento, Calif., requires special consideration due to the level of devastation that would occur in the event of dam failure. The committee recognized, however, that increasing resources for security will need to be done in a way that does not compromise other activities that are critical to BOR's primary mission of providing water and power.
The report identifies an uneven commitment within BOR to the development of an effective security program (see finding 22). BOR senior management needs to communicate a consistent commitment to security by incorporating it into the organization's mission and vision statements, and by developing and communicating a plan for a sustainable security program with clear objectives and goals.
The study was requested and sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. A committee roster follows.
Copies of Assessment of the Bureau of Reclamation's Security Program are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).
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[ This news release and report are available at http://national-academies.org ]
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment
Committee on Assessment of the Bureau of Reclamation's Security Program
John T. Christian* (chair)
Bilal M. Ayyub
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and
Center for Technology and Systems Management
University of Maryland
George H. Baker
Associate Professor, and
Institute of Infrastructure and Information Assurance
James Madison University
Dwight A. Beranek
Vice President and Operations Manager
Michael Baker Jr. Inc.
Mark M. Hankewycz
The Protection Engineering Group PC
Former President and CEO
Weidlinger Associates Inc.
L. Michael Kaas
Office of Managing Risk and Public Safety
U.S. Department of the Interior (retired)
David A. Klinger
Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice
University of Missouri
Richard G. Little
Keston Institute for Infrastructure
School of Policy, Planning, and Development
University of Southern California
John A. McCarthy
Kamal Advisory Services LLC
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Charles I. McGinnis
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired)
Karlene H. Roberts
Professor of Psychology
Haas School of Business, and
Institute for Business and Economics Research
University of California
Randy L. Rossman
Bureau of Homeland Security
Miami-Dade Police Department
Craig D. Uchida
Justice & Security Strategies
Silver Spring, Md.
RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF
Lynda L. Stanley