describes briefly the importance of these partners’ roles and touches on some of the issues related to the federal government’s ability to productively interact with these groups.
State and local governments have critical responsibilities in homeland security because terrorist incidents are likely to affect first and foremost a particular locality in which a target is located, and the police, fire, emergency management, and other public officials there will be the first on the scene. However, it is not possible for each locality to develop its own comprehensive response to the possibility of terrorism or to engineer protective systems, let alone to conduct research on new techniques and technology. Creating common solutions to counterterrorism challenges, and providing the needed knowledge and engineering base, will therefore fall to the federal government. But the federal government’s efforts will be useless unless the design of standards and the development of procedures are informed by the experience and insight of the first responders. Also, the results of the federal programs must then be made available to state and local authorities, directly or through their collective bodies such as police and fire associations.
Industry, too, has crucial contributions to make to increasing homeland security. Many critical infrastructures are largely owned and operated by the private sector, not the government. Much of the needed investment and adaptation to protect these infrastructures will have to be made by private companies. The funds for these investments will come from some mixture of funds provided by the federal government and funds provided by the companies themselves. The private sector’s own investments will arise in several ways—for instance, because they are mandated by law or regulation, because incentives are provided (e.g., tax relief), because insurance companies require them, or because competitive business practice recommends them. In any case, it is important that these investments be made in a manner that fully realizes the potential of science and technology to provide solutions. Moreover, since much of the relevant technical expertise about these critical infrastructures resides in the private parties that operate them, it is essential that these parties participate directly in devising solutions to vulnerabilities.
Finally, this report amply demonstrates that America’s strength in science and technology is perhaps its most critical asset in countering terrorism without degrading our quality of life. Terrorism is a threat to U.S. security for the foreseeable future, and as our defenses improve, terrorists’ abilities to circumvent them will also improve. It is essential that we balance the short-term investments in technology intended to solve the problems that are defined today with a longer-term program in fundamental science designed to lay foundations for countering future threats that we cannot currently define. These long-term programs must involve the nation’s immense capacity for performing creative basic research, at universities, government laboratories, industrial research facilities, and nongovernmental organizations.