10 March 2012

Enterprise Risk: The Future of Public Private Partnerships...

When it comes to the overall Business Resilience in a city or geographic region, there are a plethora of Public Private Partnerships that have been in development for decades between government entities and the private sector. The goal for some is the simple exchange of information on relevant topics of community and local or federal jurisdictions. Others have a very distinct role and measurable outcomes designed into their structure, to achieve a mutual purpose. The Houston Ship Channel Security District is a rare example:

The Houston Ship Channel Security District, a unique public-private partnership, improves security and safety for facilities, employees and communities surrounding the Houston Ship Channel. The district provides oversight of comprehensive and cost-effective security solutions, leveraging more than $30 million in federal grants to install technology and security infrastructure with operations, maintenance and matching dollars to fund specific security projects, maintenance and operational services.

An enhanced multi-layered approach increases preparedness and response capability to mitigate and eliminate potential security threats within district boundaries, protecting both landside and waterside facilities. The improved infrastructure includes wireless and fiber optic-wired communications systems, software that analyzes video images, high-tech night vision and motion-activated detection equipment. It also includes land and water detection components, such as radar, sonar and security sensors.

District services include enhanced security capability, such as marked patrol boats, patrol cars and all-terrain vehicles. Information sharing, alerts and notifications will be improved through a consolidated multi-agency operational and strategic command and control emergency
response structure.

Improving domain and situation awareness through enhanced infrastructure and services will deliver more rapid response times.

There are other Public Private Partnerships (PPP) that help address the safety and security of the United States, including the FBI's InfraGard program. This is an approach to engaging with private and public sector individuals in a region, as opposed to a specific business entity. The combination of an individual-based intelligence sharing organization, combined with a more business owner-operator and city, county and state governments model, is one that needs continuous care and oversight to remain effective.

There are hundreds of other local and national models that converge on the goal of a true public private partnership, that never achieve excellence. They continuously miss the mark from several levels of information exchange, coordination, cooperation and collaboration. These failed attempts at getting the private sector working in concert with government, still comes back to one key criteria for success; people. Regardless of whether you have the funding resources or not, a single or handful of motivated, dedicated and smart people, can and will make the relationship work.

Simultaneously, people can also be the roadblock, the resistance or the problem in getting a public private partnership working as effectively as it could be, to achieve the mission. This is when the mechanisms of governance, oversight and common sense are needed to guide the respective initiatives and operations of the entity either public or private, in the right direction.

You only have to look at the leadership in many cases to understand why there is continuing success in achieving SMART objectives or why there is failure. Service before self-interest is what becomes a major facet of why many of these organizations perish and then you have to examine who is really the beneficiary of the work being done by these dedicated volunteers.

Another effective public private example is the Intelligence National Security Alliance:

INSA is the premier not-for-profit, nonpartisan, private sector professional organization providing a structure and interactive forum for thought leadership, the sharing of ideas, and networking within the intelligence and national security communities. INSA has over 160 corporate members, as well as several hundred individual members, who are industry leaders within the government, private sector, and academia.

When you are able to converge the thought leaders from a particular vertical discussion area, to produce the best thinking on an operational risk topic, the output is extraordinary. The key is to keep these same set of thought leaders together long enough and often enough, for the trust factors to build and for the true sense of collaboration to emerge. INSA has accomplished this with the Homeland Security Intelligence Council. Formed in 2010 and working continuously on a monthly and even bi-weekly basis, they have produced several valuable outcomes from their work together. One example is the white paper produced soon before the tenth anniversary event of 9/11.

Homeland Security Intelligence is a discipline that depends on the successful fusion of foreign and domestic intelligence to produce the kind of actionable intelligence necessary to protect the homeland. INSA is one private private organization that realizes this more than others.

The private sector companies, who in many cases are the owners of critical infrastructure assets in the nation remain the power base. The willingness or reluctance to share the right information at the most appropriate time from government and combine it with private sector capabilities, will always be the largest challenge going forward.

So what are a few of the recommendations of highest priority these days for consideration by all:

  • The DNI, in partnership with the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, DHs, the Director of the FBI and state, local and tribal leaders should articulate a clear, lawful role for fusion centers in the national intelligence process and the national intelligence strategy, and define what constitutes appropriate Federal presence in a fusion center. DHs, I&A as the federal executive agent, should establish standards for training all fusion center analysts to a common analytic standard.
  • Congress should consider funding a base-line operational capability for state and urban area fusion centers. Federal funds should be limited to support of maintaining federally-validated capabilities, and allocated specifically for the fusion centers.
  • The program manager - Information sharing environment should develop policy for a single, effective suspicious activity reporting system, a better methodology and analytics to support the use of Suspicious Activity Reporting in Homeland Security Intelligence (HSI) analysis, and promulgate policy for the establishment of a single sensitive but unclassified information sharing network for the enterprise.

The last word in the last sentence is the key to public private partnerships in the U.S.. The "Enterprise" is not just government when it comes to intelligence and situational awareness. One only has to look at the number of iPhones and camera enabled PDA's being carried around by millions of people to understand this today. Social Media and Commerce is a wave forming on the magnitude of a Tsunami and without an effectively functioning "Enterprise", we can only imagine the future enterprise risk implications.

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