DHS critical infrastructure program welcomes new partners

The federal Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) Program welcomes several new information-sharing partners. The states of Massachusetts, California and Arizona received PCII Accreditation as did the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Accreditation allows federal, state and local officials and emergency responders meeting certain requirements and trained in handling PCII to access information voluntarily submitted by the private sector about the nation's critical infrastructure...

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 28, 2006 -- The Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) Program has welcomed several new information-sharing partners over the past few months. The states of Massachusetts, California and Arizona received PCII Accreditation as did the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. PCII Accreditation allows federal, state and local officials and emergency responders who have met certain requirements and have been trained in handling PCII to access information voluntarily submitted by the private sector about the nation's critical infrastructure.

The private sector owns and operates an estimated 85 percent of the country's critical infrastructure such as railroads, farms, financial and communications networks, power plants and other facilities central to the nation's everyday wellbeing. The accreditation process enables PCII to be shared with government and homeland security officials while still upholding strict safeguarding measures.

"This is another exciting landmark for the PCII Program," said PCII Program Manager Laura Kimberly. "Accreditation helps keep important information secure while getting it to the homeland security professionals who most need it."

The PCII Program began February 18, 2004, and was created under the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002. The PCII Program protects voluntary submissions of qualifying information from public release under the Freedom of Information Act and state and local disclosure laws, and use in civil litigation.

The accreditation of the new state and Federal partners is another significant step in building the PCII Program's network, and will continue to create stronger information-sharing relationships across Federal, state and local levels.

PCII final rule issued
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the Final Rule on Procedures for Handling Critical Infrastructure Information on Sept. 1, 2006.

The final rule sets forth revised regulations for the handling and safeguarding of PCII, and makes substantial changes to the interim rule. The most notable program changes resulting from the final rule include greater protection against disclosures, a simplified submission process, and expedited access to and validation of information. The final rule incorporates comments received from industry and government and addresses procedures governing the receipt, validation, handling, storage, marking and use of critical infrastructure information voluntarily submitted to DHS.

Private sector representatives can submit critical infrastructure information for PCII protection at www.dhs.gov/pcii. Government entities interested in applying for PCII access or anyone requiring more information about the program may call the PCII Program Office at (202) 360-3023 or e-mail pciiinfo@dhs.gov.

The Department of Homeland Security's PCII Program was created to encourage industry to share sensitive security-related information with government. It is estimated that over 85 percent of critical infrastructure -- the systems, assets, and industries upon which our nation depends - is owned and operated by the private sector. PCII designation prevents public release under the Freedom of Information Act and state and local disclosure laws, and use in civil litigation.

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