On 20 September, officials at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced the creation of the agency’s new Office of Energy Infrastructure Security, which will work to reduce threats to the electric grid and other energy facilities. The goal is for the office to help FERC, as well as other agencies and private companies, better identify potential dangers and solutions. Creating this office allows FERC to leverage its existing resources with those of other government agencies and private industry in a coordinated, focused manner. Effective mitigation of cyber and other physical attacks requires rapid interactions among regulators, industry and federal and state agencies. Beyond Congress’ inability to act to protect the electric grid and other areas of vulnerability – including dams, pipelines and oil facilities, among others – FERC has been hamstrung by outdated requirements that prevent rapid action, officials have said. Joseph McClelland, director of FERC’s Office of Electric Reliability, noted that legislation from 2005 requires the agency to go through lengthy, bureaucratic processes to propose new reliability standards and modifications to existing standards, as well as to sanction users, owners and operators who violate the standards. All of the actions have to receive congressional approval. Faced with a national security threat to reliability, there may be a need to act decisively in hours or days, rather than weeks, months or years.
Source: Federal Computer Week, http://fcw.com/Articles/2012/09/21/FERC-new-critical-infrastructure-cybersecurity-office.aspx?Page=2