Sector Working Groups (SWGs) are a key component of New Jersey's critical infrastructure/ key resource (CIKR) sector partnership model. You may be familiar with the statutorily created Infrastructure Advisory Committee (IAC), comprised of high level private sector representatives who collectively advance the security goals of New Jersey's Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources as advisors to the Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force and the Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness (OHSP).
IAC Sector Chairs represent their sectors through executive-level interactions with one another, the OHSP Director, and state agency commissioners or directors. The Sector Working Group is a newer concept, one that has arisen organically to fill the need for working level groups that share information and develop and refine both cross-sector and sector-specific security and resilience goals, policies, practices and procedures.
New Jersey's SWGs consist of both public and private sector representatives working together to advance common security and resilience goals. This model contrasts slightly with the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) model, which separates government and the private sector into separate sector-specific councils.
Although there is great diversity among the Sector Working Groups, they do share some common characteristics. First, each Sector is assigned a State Agency Liaison (Sector Specific Agency in NIPP parlance). The State Agency Liaisons play a key role in supporting, and in some cases channeling, the activities of the SWGs. Another common denominator is the participation of an assigned Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) liaison from the OHSP CIP Bureau.
The CIP liaison communicates key State initiatives, facilitates information sharing, and advances sector and cross-sector security initiatives. The final element is, of course, the most important - the private sector. Private sector representation across our sector working groups includes both individual owner/operators and trade association representatives. Together, these groups collaborate, share information, and formulate consensus approaches to CIKR protection tailored to the risks most pertinent to the sector.
The comprehensive risk management framework fosters partnerships that are crucial for the development of security goals, vulnerability and capability assessments, protective programs and sector specific protection guidance.
Optimally, the result of this activity is a multi-directional, networked information sharing approach that helps determine what threat information and contingency and preparedness planning is relevant.
SWG members are the vital link in this process. To accomplish this, SWGs should address three organizational priorities:
- Establish Risk Management Frameworks
- Provide for Information Dissemination Across Sectors
- Acquire Additional Members
The result of these activities is an increase in the ability of SWGs to assess risk through the development of a comprehensive understanding of the threat to and common vulnerabilities of sector-specific and interdependent CIKR. This enables State, county and local CIKR managers and asset owner/operators that are members of SWGs to make prudent, informed security investments and to take protective measures when necessary.Growing the sector partnership depends on the ability to clearly articulate and demonstrate the “value proposition.” In short, we must be ready to address the question "what's in it for me?" Simply put, participation in a SWG enables public and private sector partners to plan and prepare for the myriad of challenges, whether natural or man-made, we must prepare to confront. Additionally, it provides a venue for sector best practices and policies to be established, discussed and put into practice.