of Homeland Security interacts with the private sector in many ways, including sharing data, conducting emergency exercises, and promoting interoperability. Other government agencies also have continuing interactions with the private sector in the energy field, and particularly the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In addition to discussions with outside organizations, the members of the working group themselves described the activities in which they are directly involved. The presentations of the working group members addressed pipeline security planning; protection of critical physical infrastructure, particularly key facilities, on a broad scale; development of standards and regulations at the national level; and practical challenges in preventing terrorist incidents in a large city, with special attention to the challenges of monitoring activities involving vehicular traffic.
In summary, the working group considered a broad range of issues in the energy sector. As suggested above, emphasis was given to protection of functional infrastructures, particularly pipelines, petroleum assets, and power generation and distribution; crosscutting concerns, including threats, vulnerabilities, preparedness, and determination of risk; and practical experience in applications of technologies and in dealing with government structures. Nuclear energy was given only minimal attention in view of the many unique challenges and experiences encountered in this sector. Finally, while relevant U.S. research and development efforts were considered, discussion of Russian research and development activities was left to other groups with more expertise in the area.
The working group highlighted three topics that deserve more detailed consideration, within national and international contexts. These topics are of great importance in the United States and Russia, and improved understanding of recent developments should be of mutual interest to specialists from both countries.
First, vulnerability assessments are playing a large role in developing plans to reduce damage from terrorist attacks. However, there are shortcomings in attempting to develop generic vulnerability assessments, or even assessment methodologies, given the wide variations in types of terrorist scenarios and types of facilities at risk. The breadth of application of specific types of vulnerability assessments deserves detailed consideration. Also, development of approaches in adapting generic assessment frameworks to specific problems is important, and this topic should be further pursued.
Second, the role of government is central to all efforts to counter the threat of terrorism. Many of the most worrisome scenarios cut across the responsibilities of individual government agencies, and coordination is of high priority. Also, as previously discussed, clarification of the respective roles of government