ANSI Homeland Security Standards Panel Holds First Meeting

Nearly 200 people gathered at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus in Gaithersburg, Md., on June 9-10 for the first plenary meeting of the American National Standards Institute Homeland Security Standards Panel (ANSI-HSSP).

The panel serves as a cross-sectoral coordinating body for the development and enhancement of homeland security standards to support critical needs identified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

ANSI chairman Dr. George Arnold emphasized the inclusive nature of the panel in his opening remarks. "The ANSI-HSSP provides a forum in which industry and government can work together to identify existing standards and, where new standards are needed, help to accelerate the timely development of new standards by the appropriate organizations to meet the nation's homeland security needs," he said.

Dr. Holly Dockery, director of standards-state and local interaction of the DHS's Science and Technology Directorate, explained that the current mission, structure and progress of the DHS is centered on prevention of terrorist attacks, reducing vulnerability, minimizing damage and assisting in recovery. She noted that the need for standards was explicit in the original strategy for the creation of the department.

To launch the work of the ANSI-HSSP, Dockery proposed an initial approach that begins with capturing the "low-hanging fruit" in the standards community: identifying certain solutions or standards that already exist and can be quickly applied to problems or needs of the DHS. The DHS is looking to the ANSI-HSSP to act as a "portal into the U.S. standards development community," to provide a method to manage and track all the standards work that is underway, said Dockery.

Representatives from the DHS and several members of the ANSI-HSSP Interim Steering Committee gave presentations on the four sectors identified by the department as key areas that most warrant standards activity: critical infrastructure protection, countermeasures for security technology systems, countermeasures for public health, and certification and accreditation. Based on their area of expertise, participants then gathered in four coordinating committees that were formed to help generate and guide ideas, producing a wealth of information and jumping-off points that will be compiled into a comprehensive homeland security standards database.

"Moving forward, we will be working with DHS to identify the top priority topics and schedule workshops to address them in the shortest possible timeframe," explained Dan Bart, president of the Telecommunications Industry Association, who co-chaired the meeting with Mary Saunders of NIST.

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