circumstances make it difficult for DHS to enable or participate effectively in private–public partnerships, and the same types of circumstances will pose problems in building resilience at the community level. The CFR report points to the need to “strengthen the quality and experience of DHS and establish a personnel exchange program with the private sector to help make DHS a more effective partner to the private sector” (Flynn and Prieto, 2006:35). It is also important for community-level collaboration to consider how to familiarize those engaged with the needs and resources of other collaborators and how to build trust among them. There are examples of effective local and regional collaboration led by DHS agencies that could be used as models. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard supports local private–public harbor-safety committees and regional area-security committees that bring together government, private, and nonprofit users of ports and waterways to collaborate on safety and security issues. The Coast Guard and the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board co-sponsor an annual conference for those committees.6


Incomplete and ineffective sharing of information concerning threats and vulnerabilities constitutes a challenge to private–public collaboration. Both government and the private sector have legitimate concerns regarding the sharing of information. The private sector’s concerns include the sensitivity of its information, legal limits on information disclosure, advantages that competitors might gain through sharing, and the existence of business-to-business contracts, such as nondisclosure agreements. Private–public information sharing is often perceived as lacking appropriate balance: regulations require businesses to disclose information to government, but government may not reciprocate with information that businesses need (Flynn and Prieto, 2006).

Government agencies are also subject to privacy restrictions, transparency requirements, and security rules. They are required to protect classified information and information considered “sensitive but unclassified” and “for official use only.” At the same time, lower-level government entities and entities outside government may require such information for their own preparedness activities but must have security clearances. Those holding the information decide which entities should receive such clearances and how extensive the information dissemination should be. If key data are withheld from communities, it is conceivable that rigorous analysis of infrastructure vulnerabilities may not be possible. This may create doubt about the effectiveness of resilience-focused collaborative efforts among those engaged and the community that could lead to mistrust. Assessment of community vulnerabilities and resources is an early step of collaboration forming suggested by the committee.


See (accessed June 20, 2010).

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