Evaluating Federal Grant Programming to Support State and Local Critical Infrastructure Protection: Results and Perspectives of Qualitative-Empirical End-User Survey Research in the EU

by Andrea Jerković


This paper presents the approach and main results of a series of surveys and foresight activities at Member State and EU levels to contribute to program evaluation and evolution by identifying end-user and practitioner technology and knowledge needs for improved critical infrastructure protection at state and local levels. The approach was first used in a study to support the Austrian Security Research Program KIRAS, launched in 2005 as the first Security Research Program in the EU, and then at the KIRAS grant project level. Subsequently, it was expanded on and used in European Union-co-funded Security Research projects. This included foresight projects such as FOCUS, where inter-project collaboration was established with DHS Science & Technology projects as well as with the FEMA Strategic Foresight Initiative.

Research has shown that homeland security can significantly benefit from actively seeking international best practices and an international scope on its mission space. While national specifics remain (such as the challenge of aged infrastructure in the U.S. and the EU focus on energy and transport sectors), main characteristics converge across the U.S. and the EU as well as its Member States, such as the private sector as the main owner of, and investor in, critical infrastructure. Both U.S. critical infrastructure and EU Member States National Critical Infrastructure (NCI) are commonly referred to as being to 85 percent in the hands of the private sector. Review and exchange of practices appear promising, in particular as the U.S. Homeland Security Enterprise and the EU’s move towards a genuine Security Union have specific challenges in common that include converging mission spaces, the distributed character of the effort, its reaching across different horizontal and vertical tiers of government, as well as the objective of a security community, where all parts of society should be involved in the production of security as a public good, and be able to consume it.

In particular, federal programming in homeland and civil security should contribute to empowering actors at state and local levels to reach their mission goals, while fostering state and local ownership. Further, national risk management doctrine used to prioritize preparedness and response resources should consistently include risk assessment at state, local, territorial, and tribal levels, and systematically collect related expectations in homeland security policies and programs.

Overall, in order to effectuate federal grant programming in homeland and civil security (with a focus on critical infrastructure protection), the following steps should be considered:

  • Increase state and local ownership in federal programs and national security problems;
  • Address interaction of infrastructure and (political, civic, organizational, and security) culture more strongly and consistently; and
  • Emphasize the value-added (or subsidiary) character of federal programs with regard to state and local initiatives.

Andrea Jerkovic may be reached at jerkovic@european-security.info

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