CISA Details Essential CI Roles, Tells SLGs to Use ‘Judgment’

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on March 28 issued version 2.0 of its list of essential critical infrastructure sectors. While those sectors broadly remained the same as in CISA’s previous guidance on March 19, the agency in its latest release emphasized the need for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to “use their own judgment” in their responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

“State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are responsible for implementing and executing response activities, including decisions about access and reentry, in their communities, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role,” said CISA Director Christopher Krebs in the March 28 memo.

“Officials should use their own judgment in issuing implementation directives and guidance,” Krebs said. “Similarly, while adhering to relevant public health guidance, critical infrastructure owners and operators are expected to use their own judgement on issues of the prioritization of business processes and workforce allocation to best ensure continuity of the essential goods and services they support.”

“All decisions should appropriately balance public safety, the health and safety of the workforce, and the continued delivery of essential critical infrastructure services and functions. While this advisory list is meant to help public officials and employers identify essential work functions, it allows for the reality that some workers engaged in activity determined to be essential may be unable to perform those functions because of health-related concerns,” the memo says.

In CISA’s March 19 memo, the agency emphasized the importance of critical infrastructure to virus response, and said, “Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations.”

Both memos say that essential critical infrastructure sectors are: information technology,
communications, chemical, critical manufacturing, commercial facilities, dams, defense industrial base, emergency services, energy, financial, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare, nuclear, transportation systems, and water.

CISA invited feedback on the list at CISA.CAT@CISA.DHS.GOV.

John Curran
About John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.

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