National Critical Infrastructure Sector Coordination
After 9/11, Meridian stepped in to help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security coordinate with the private sector on matters of national security.
In the wake of 9/11, the newly established U.S. Department of Homeland Security needed a systematic method for trusted and regular communication with the leadership of critical infrastructure sectors of the economy. This would allow government officials and industry leaders to share warnings, plan for joint response to threats and recovery from events, and receive input about national plans and policies.
Meridian was asked to create a mechanism for critical infrastructure coordination that could be replicated across all 16 federally designated sectors. We developed a model of private sector councils linked to their government counterpart agencies. We applied this approach to multiple sectors, including:
- information technology
- food and agriculture
- water and wastewater
- transportation (including modes such as maritime and trucking)
- commercial facilities
- healthcare and public health
As an example, Meridian helped the healthcare and public health sector group establish a governance approach, leadership structure, and protocols for coordination with federal officials. We created sub-sector councils (such as the pharmaceutical industry and medical practitioners) to ensure that all sector voices were represented. Both private sector representatives and government officials sought out Meridian for this work because they trusted us to be objective conveners and effective facilitators.
Despite the shared priority of national security, these conversations were tricky. Government officials could not share classified material; in turn, private sector representatives could not share certain proprietary information. However, the healthcare sector developed a successful approach that became part of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan; it continues to meet regularly today.