Terrorism and Critical
Infrastructures: Implications for
Public–Private Crisis Management
Arjen Boin and Denis Smi...

                       could become radicalized to such an extent that      systems. Privatizing these organization...

    So how can public management deal with            been shown by the many ‘false alarms’ since the
the increasin...

                            Centralization and added layers of co-           impossible job. At this point, we need...

problems.                                              management response is likely to be

                       and provide insights into the agendas that              grip, they will enter upon a quest f...

too much time and undermines the flexibility,          Designing Secure Infrastructures:
improvization and urgency ...

                       interpretation, but it does make the case for         complex dilemmas and the impossible ch...

•Terrorism.                                             380, 8493, pp. 20–22.
•Public–private partnerships.        ...

                         Press, New York).                                    Smith, D. (2006), The crisis of manag...
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  1. 1. 295 Terrorism and Critical Infrastructures: Implications for Public–Private Crisis Management Arjen Boin and Denis Smith The spate of terrorist attacks in New York, London and Madrid has raised some significant issues for the public management of critical infrastructures. In many countries, privatizations in the 1980s and 1990s have transferred key elements of the critical infrastructure to private companies. Because these infrastructures are of major significance to our societies and economies, they must be protected against prolonged periods of breakdown. The ‘new’ terrorism has the potential to do just that. The management of this new threat is a complex task, which invariably will be undertaken by both public and private actors. They must deal with the core challenges of the prevention of attacks, effective communication of information across organizational boundaries and the ‘ownership’ of crisis decision-making. This article considers these issues within the context of the broader research areas of public management and crisis management. Terrorism has, for many, become one of the increased security measures were necessary to Arjen Boin is defining issues facing Western governments in protect the travelling public and puzzled Assistant Professor of the 21st century. While the probability of being whether the ‘normal’ procedures in place prior Public killed in a terrorist attack is infinitely lower to this ‘plot’ were perhaps somewhat flawed. Administration in the than the risks associated with car travel, the The grounding of an aircraft on 18 August Department of issue has captured the imagination of the various 2006 on the basis of a written warning (on a Public publics and has generated a new set of task plane airsickness bag) raised further questions Administration, demands for public management. These about the proportionate nature of the response University of Leiden. demands take on particular importance in the towards potential threats. The emerging chaos context of critical infrastructures: a breakdown associated with these incidents led Michael Denis Smith is in these infrastructures, however brief, O’Leary (the CEO of Ryanair) to compare the Professor of undermines the public trust in the ability of handling of the response to something that was Management in the public management to provide and preserve a worthy of the Keystone Kops. Department of sense of security. Like the suicide attacks on the London Business and The planned (and foiled) attacks on Underground in July 2005 (Ahmed, 2006; Management, commercial airlines travelling from the UK to Tulloch, 2006), this particular threat allegedly University of the USA in August 2006 provide a good originated with several individuals holding Glasgow. illustration of the challenges that confront public British nationality rather than terrorists from managers. In the aftermath of this foiled plot, abroad. The media once again questioned the the UK’s aviation system was virtually paralysed. role of the ‘enemy within’ in the so-called ‘war The increased security measures that were on terror’. An obvious problem associated with imposed caused considerable delays to the flow dealing with such an indigenous threat, was of people passing through busy airports and how future threats could be identified without added still further layers to the security checks massively infringing on the civil liberties of the for passengers. The increase in security population as a whole. The issue of profiling measures caused mayhem at many European was also raised in the aftermath of the attempted airports and provoked subsequent criticisms bombings, and this fuelled further debate on over the UK government’s handling of the the erosion of civil liberties. All of this debate security threat. It took several days for the took place in a society that has shown a marked airports and airline operators to adjust to the reluctance to adopt identity cards! Another newly-imposed safety measures. During this issue that the incident raised related to the period, people invariably wondered why the manner in which citizens of a liberal democracy © 2006 THE AUTHORS JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006
  2. 2. 296 could become radicalized to such an extent that systems. Privatizing these organizations has they would commit such an atrocity against added a further problem for public their fellow ‘citizens’. The episode also raised management around communication and, questions about the UK’s foreign policy as well ultimately, control. Under times of threat, these as the ways in which various groups within our infrastructures are of immense importance to society are integrated (or not, as the case may public management and yet remain outside of be) into the ‘mainstream’. It raised questions their immediate sphere of control. concerning the manner in which these Within this context, two developments communities might be socially discriminated joined forces in the foiled attack on transatlantic against in terms of education, employment and travel that have serious implications for our housing—issues that might be seen to contribute societies. First, there is the increased potential to radicalization (Cesari, 2004). (and apparent determination) of terrorists to These issues are clearly matters of concern employ deadly force on a large scale. Terrorist for public management. At a national policy attacks have, even before 9/11, shown an level, the foiled plot also challenges the alarming increase in the attempts at maximizing assumptions that we often have about warfare casualties. The added complication of mass being conducted between nation states or suicide terrorism has been the difficulty geographical regions; and it raises some associated with prevention when the fundamental issues around public freedoms in perpetrator has no desire to survive the attack. terms of the prevention of future threats of this The capability to achieve mass casualties nature. What emerges is a complex set of multi- can be explained, at least in part, by the second level issues around the interaction between the development that is becoming important in ‘new’ forms of terrorism (i.e. mass suicide terrorist attacks: namely, the ever-increasing terrorism) and elements of public management. focus on critical infrastructures as targets. What Clearly, the prevention of and response to is inherently problematic in these critical such terrorist attacks has considerable infrastructures is the vulnerability that is implications for the public sector. The police, embedded within them, almost by their very security and other emergency services, along nature. Put another way, by attacking these with elements of social care, health and means of mass transit, communication and ‘government’, are all directly involved in the power distribution, it is possible to cripple process of dealing with any terrorist attack. western cities (albeit on a relatively temporary Increasingly, however, the focus of these attacks basis) and, in certain cases, also ensure a high are on those elements of our economy that had, loss of life in the attack. As we seek to develop until the privatization policies of the Thatcher ever more ‘efficient’ forms of mass transit, then and subsequent governments, been in public this potential vulnerability increases. ownership but are now owned by private A further complicating factor is the companies. These organizations are often increased interdependencies between many of responsible for the country’s critical these critical infrastructures. The threat of a infrastructures—telecommunications, utility disturbance in one element of the wider ‘system’ provision, transport infrastructure and the often suffices to paralyse other elements. The like—that are essential to the maintenance of fuel ‘blockades’ by UK farmers and haulage our ‘way of life’. Even though public operators in 2000 and 2005 are illustrative of management may no longer play a role in the the vulnerability in the system. Not much is operation of those services, it has a role to play needed to make technical infrastructures fail in in their protection and ‘recovery’ should they non-technical ways—an issue that will not have be attacked. gone unnoticed by terrorist groups. A major This article outlines the challenges for both constraint on any effort to manage these ‘public’ and ‘crisis’ management that flow from potential breakdowns is the diffuse ownership this combination of increased dependence on of critical infrastructures. To begin with, it is critical infrastructures and the looming threat often not immediately clear which of terrorism. infrastructures are critical and who the key operators are. The internet, finance, Critical Infrastructures—Private communication, transport, for example, are all Companies and Public Implications deemed to be critical infrastructures with many Everyday life has become impossible without (mostly private) players. However, all of these the uninterrupted functioning of have a significant bearing on the abilities of communication, energy, water, supply chains, public management institutions to perform information technology, financial and transport their roles in an effective manner. © 2006 THE AUTHORS PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006 JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA
  3. 3. 297 So how can public management deal with been shown by the many ‘false alarms’ since the the increasing dependence on those critical attacks of 9/11. infrastructures that they do not control and yet Second, the societal and political climate in which are essential to the continued operation which political leaders and public policy-makers of public services? This is especially problematic must try to prevent attacks has made it harder in an era of widespread concern with the to do so. This may seem paradoxical, as it is curtailment of those public freedoms that seem often accepted that a climate of fear provides to be required in dealing with terrorist threats. political leaders with unlimited leeway to take Not only do public managers receive most of necessary actions. However, there have been the blame in the event of an attack, they shoulder considerable debates concerning the role of responsibility for dealing with its impact by western ‘tolerance’ and political correctness in ‘running’ the security and emergency services, both creating the situation in which terrorism social services (bereavement counselling), has been bred and the inhibited the potential health care provision (especially for injuries on for intervention to prevent the further spread the ground), as well as disaster recovery of terrorist ideologies (Bawer, 2006; Elliott, programmes that span many facets of the public 2006; O’Neill and McGrory, 2006; Schwartz, sector. 2006). The implication of many of these arguments is that the west has failed to move Trends and Challenges in the Era of ‘New swiftly enough to deal with emergent terrorist Terrorism’ threats for fear of accusations of over-zealous While terrorism has always been a feature of approaches towards minority groups. There is modern societies (Laqueur, 2004), there is still also an apparent declining tolerance for failure considerable debate over its characteristics, that is emerging in many western societies. nature and future manifestations (Corlett, 2003; Citizens and media reporters are quick to blame Crenshaw, 2004; Cronin, 2004; Williams, 2004; incumbent politicians in the wake of even small Weinberg, 2005). Many commentators seem failures, never mind large-scale policy problems convinced that future terrorism will be both (Anon, 2006b; Posner, 2005), but they often increasingly frequent and deadly and will use show little interest in efforts to improve the levels of force that will mark a significant change defence mechanisms against terrorist attacks. from earlier forms of atrocity, especially around It is never clear what we may realistically expect the use of chemical and biological forms of from governmental efforts, so it is never clear weapons or other ‘weapons of mass destruction’ when the defence is successful. When an attack (Reader, 2002; Guillemin, 2005; Thomas, does materialize, the media are all too willing to 2006). Whether such views come to be true or help identify the responsible parties. All this not, it is clear that policy-makers will have to helps to create an environment in which public prepare for these ‘rude surprises’ that defy managers prioritize symbolic measures (the conventional administrative or policy responses colour-warning system in the US comes to and cause collective stress. In particular, there mind) rather than effective (if expensive) are three trends that make it harder for policy- mechanisms, such as machinery that can detect makers to manage these contingencies. liquid explosives and more systematic forms of First, there is the issue of the ever-growing intelligence-gathering and analysis. complexity of social, corporate, industrial, Third, it is becoming clear that the financial, infrastructure and administrative administrative structures and processes in most systems—and the tight coupling that exists countries are not fit to deal with unforeseen between these systems. This has the effect of crises. Public organizations tend to prepare for rendering critical infrastructures increasingly known and expected emergencies (on the basis vulnerable to attack (Perrow, 1984; Baer et al., of a priori-based risk assessments), but the 2005). As the inner workings of these large- administrative toolbox that is used for routine scale systems become harder to understand, problems is of limited use in the face of the breakdowns within them become harder to ‘unannounced’ crisis. Plans for crisis and manage. In addition, a range of unintended disaster management tend to have a highly consequences that are associated with real- symbolic character, and often provide little time interventions have also become part of guidance for those who must respond to this equation. Ultimately, the interlinkages unforeseen and unimagined events. In between critical systems allow for the rapid addition, plans are only useful if they are tested escalation of seemingly modest disturbances. and refined and the people who work within In many cases, the fear of an attack may be the plan are familiar with their roles, sufficient to paralyse critical systems as has responsibilities and interactions with others. © 2006 THE AUTHORS JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006
  4. 4. 298 Centralization and added layers of co- impossible job. At this point, we need to ordination mechanisms also do little to improve consider the challenges that public leaders the response capacity of organizations under face within the ‘new’ post-9/11 environment. conditions of threat. Truly effective crisis management depends on principles and The Impossibility of Prevention process. Structures and procedures play a Most sensible people will agree that the facilitative role at best, unless they have been prevention of terrorism should be a priority tried and tested on a regular basis—a luxury for the ‘state’ and its various mechanisms of that many actors in the public sector are simply management. Most sensible people would unable to afford. Similarly, a quick recovery also agree that it is impossible to thwart each from system disturbances typically demands conspiracy and detect each and every lone some degree of resilience which, in turn, individual or group harbouring evil requires flexibility, redundancy and the capacity intentions. There are some wider issues that to reassemble available resources. A resilient make prevention problematic. For example, response is facilitated by a generic crisis there is considerable debate about the nature management philosophy that provides public of terrorism, and a robust theoretical authorities with cognitive anchors in times of framework that allows the root causes of deep uncertainty. Such a philosophy enables terrorism to be explained is not available authorities to understand the dynamics of crisis (Corlett, 2003; Laqueur, 2004; Williams, and guides their interventions in the evolving 2004; Weinberg, 2005). Policy-makers response. regularly warn that a terrorist attack will It is against this background that public occur somewhere in the future, but these management has to respond to terrorist threats warnings are often based upon ‘weak’ (as part of a wide ranging portfolio of potential evidence (Bossie, 2004; Flynn, 2004; Griffin, hazards) and the breadth of this portfolio of 2004; Kean and Hamilton, 2004). This risk combines with the interconnected nature realization gives rise to fresh dilemmas. Too of our societies to generate a series of challenges much prevention will have unintended for public managers. Let us briefly consider the consequences (in terms of the economy, most important challenges facing public sector privacy, and human rights); too many organizations. warnings may evoke the criticism of fear mongering; a few safety lapses, however, Challenges for Public Managers may bring down political careers and, A terrorist attack presents policy-makers with ultimately, cost lives. dilemmas that have impossible choice dimensions: everybody looks at them to ‘do Preparing for Possible Attacks something’, but it is far from clear what that Public authorities must prevent known risks ‘something’ is or whether it is even possible to from materializing without unintentionally achieve without causing additional harm. introducing new threats. They must engage Managers are required to manage ‘ahead of in the art of planning without succumbing to the curve’ in a way that both anticipates the planning pathologies. They must prepare potential for harm associated with their for the worst without scaring the population (in)actions, as well as ensures that the decisions into paralysis. They prepare for bad times taken do not create greater problems further that may or may not occur, while they are down the timeline (Smith, 2006). It is possible dealing with everyday problems that demand to identify a set of challenges that public leaders immediate attention. While the partners in face when it comes to the management of the response network never seem to tire terrorist threats (Comfort, 1988; Boin et al., from preparation efforts (their lives depend 2005). These tasks are especially relevant for on it), most others easily tire of it—especially managers in the public domain. While there is when preparation introduces minor and not a considerable body of literature that addresses so minor nuisances (ignoring the mandatory the tasks of crisis managers in the private sector evacuation drills is a good example). Those (see Smith and Elliott, 2006), the findings of who fund the bills soon learn that effective this research are not always directly applicable preparation rarely pays off come election to the public sector. time. The issues of preparation and This set of interrelated tasks (around prevention have both remained high on anticipation, prevention and response) has political and policy agendas across western never been easy to fulfil. In the contemporary Europe and, as the recent disruption in the context described above, it may well be an UK has illustrated, they are fraught with © 2006 THE AUTHORS PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006 JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA
  5. 5. 299 problems. management response is likely to be undermined (Boin et al., 2005). Early Warnings The early stages of a terrorist attack are Managing Complex Chains and Public–Private invariably hard to discern. Terrorists will seek Networks to by-pass the controls that are in place within When an attack paralyses parts of a country’s organizations and systems and aim to cause critical infrastructure, public managers are maximum damage and disruption. Crisis expected to defy a variety of theoretical laws in authorities, on the other hand, must define the order to ensure that the ‘system’ returns to its situation, filter information and intelligence optimal level of performance as quickly as from noise, and continuously verify their possible. Theorists have asserted time and again definition against this incoming information. that the top-down imposition of command- They must weigh the possible consequences of and-control models can only have unintended a ‘false positive’ (spending resources on a non- consequences in complex chains and public– event) against those of a ‘false negative’ (ignoring private networks. For many elements of public an attack in the making). Inevitably, it is never management, the command-and-control clear how far public managers can, or should, approach is a key element of contingency go in their efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. planning. While such a top down approach As the recent debates over airline passenger might well work for certain organizations, the profiling in the UK testify, the issue of human complex, interconnected nature of public rights remains an emotionally charged and management will generate some particular hard-to-handle topic of discussion. problems. In some cases, this might prove to be a dangerous illusion as the unintended Critical Decision-Making, Co-ordination, consequences of ill-considered interventions Communication in both complex and vulnerable systems and In the event of a terrorist attack, the various networks may come at huge costs. authorities must identify which decisions they must make and which should be left to others. A Return to Order They must make critical decisions without After the operational challenges of a crisis have sufficient or adequate information, and often faded, the time will come when politicians, without proper authority. They must enable media, and victims will invariably want to find co-operation between the various public and out how this ‘failure’ could have happened. private actors involved, and they must organize The debates in the wake of the attacks on New communication streams within and across the York on 9/11 illustrate this ‘crisis of legitimation’ crisis management network as well as with the (Smith, 1990). Politicians, media and interest outside world. The operational management groups will try to allocate (and also to escape) of societal crises is an arduous affair (whether blame and there will inevitably be a process of the crisis is caused by terrorism or by other scapegoating. In this politicized context, public agents of destruction does not really matter). authorities must try to distil the right lessons For effective decision-making to take place, from the crisis in order to ensure that it ‘won’t public management has to move towards happen again’. At the same time, there will be becoming an effective contingency bureaucracy, pressure to move on and ‘return things to in which its various elements engage in normal’. As the debates on the new terrorism systematic and integrated planning and train show, we may well wonder what such a new together to ensure familiarity with the plan. normality would entail and how long it would take to get there. Some suggest that any return Sense-Making to normality will take many decades, and even The definition of an attack, and its impact, is then may prove difficult to achieve (Laqueur, the result of varying perceptions of key agencies 2004; Gerges, 2005; anon., 2006a, 2006b; and stakeholders and the manifold efforts aimed Bawer, 2006; Soros, 2006). at manipulating those perceptions. Public Governments must be prepared to meet authorities will have to engage with media and these challenges. They cannot afford to ignore external actors to get their definition of the crisis management or deal with it in a situation across to a scared or sceptical public. superfluous or symbolic fashion. In preparing Their definition of the situation is likely to be for crisis management, they should avoid the contested—if not immediately, certainly in the pitfalls and pathologies that have been well future. If they do not succeed in mounting documented in the literature. These avoidable such a defence, the effectiveness of the crisis mistakes are surveyed in the following section © 2006 THE AUTHORS JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006
  6. 6. 300 and provide insights into the agendas that grip, they will enter upon a quest for increasing public service organizations need to consider (and accurate) information. They feel that in the coming decades. crucial decisions can only be made once they have a complete picture of the situation. Under Lessons from Crisis Research: Avoidable conditions of crisis, there is invariably too much Pitfalls information but too little of the quality required Crisis researchers have identified a set of to make robust decisions. The subsequent practices that have been shown not to work. deluge of incoming data is incredibly hard to The most typical problems that should be analyse. Even though the search for accurate avoided include the following: information is understandable, it also paralyses the crisis management operation. Refusing to Do not solely rely on preventive efforts. Responsible make urgent decisions in the absence of politicians and public administrators complete and accurate information is also an understand the importance of prevention. In avoidable failure. fact, modern governments invest quite heavily in prevention against terrorism. They translate Communication breakdowns. The effectiveness of lessons of previous crises and disasters into crisis management critically depends on rules and regulations, so that the same crisis communication: crisis managers need to cannot happen again. It would be a mistake, exchange information with the response actors however, to assume that any set of preventive in the crisis management network. Moreover, measures could safeguard a society from all they need to communicate with the external future crises. Most crises pose a complete environment, directly or through the media. surprise to politicians and policy-makers; they During most crises, however, communication remain convinced until late in the game that often breaks down for a variety of reasons. In the crisis at hand ‘cannot happen here’. The the context of public sector crisis management, scenarios do not seem real to them. Examples the potential for these communications abound of this phenomenon and include: 9/11, breakdowns is further complicated due to the SARS in Canada, BSE, the French heat wave in large number of organizations involved—many 2003, the 2004 tsunami and, most recently, of which are in the private sector. The plethora Hurricane Katrina. It is precisely this quality— of systems and procedures, the language used tricking the imagination into a sense of to communicate, and the inevitable symbolism complacency—that makes crises so incredibly embedded within certain forms of hard to manage. There is also a range of issues communication, are all issues that will generate that surround the notion of avoidable failure: demands for the sector. The avoidable failure this is especially important when managers for public management is to concentrate on the think that a crisis won’t happen to them because means and processes of communication (and preventive efforts have been taken. in a way that is broader than simply focusing on technical solutions) and to ensure that these The planning syndrome. In preparing for are continuously tested and refined. Waiting adversity, a strong tendency exists to record until the crisis and hoping that it ‘will be alright procedures, routines, actors, and venues in on the night’ is a recipe for disaster. detailed plans. It is true that plans may work well for predictable, routine events. A crisis is, Total reliance on command-and-control. A persistent of course, the opposite of such an event. The myth exists that a crisis management operation sense of urgency and uncertainty that defines is best organized in a military-styled command- a crisis tends to render a crisis plan useless from and-control mode. The command-and-control the start unless the ‘team’ dealing with the model promises the best of two worlds: the event are adequately trained. This is not to say bureaucratic division of labour with the speed that crisis planning is useless—far from it. It and determination of military operations. This serves various symbolic and network functions model works fine for routine emergencies such that are important. However, by attaching too as fires and hostage-takings. However, in a much symbolic value to the plan then it is likely crisis there are many unknowns. The first phase that a false sense of security will emerge. This of a crisis will be marked by a lack of accurate will undermine an effective response and is, in information, confused communication and many cases, an avoidable failure. disjointed co-ordination. Authorities will have to accept that it is impossible to control each The paralysing quest for additional information. and every move of first responders. Channelling Once a sense of crisis holds policy-makers in its information up and orders back down takes © 2006 THE AUTHORS PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006 JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA
  7. 7. 301 too much time and undermines the flexibility, Designing Secure Infrastructures: improvization and urgency we expect from Balancing Resilience and Anticipation crisis responders. An effective response is Critical infrastructures need to be reliable, flexible and networked, recombining the joint affordable and safe. This brief list of potential of the response network. The requirements poses major design problems. authorities should limit themselves to making Reliable systems may be safe, but they are critical decisions, which are the decisions only rarely cheap (Rochlin, 1996). Efficient systems they can make. are not necessarily safer or more reliable, however. Citizens and politicians of the risk Underestimating the importance of media. It is hard society prioritize reliability and safety, but they to believe that contemporary political- do not want to pay more. This design challenge administrative élites could underestimate the has become all the more pressing since the importance of media in times of crisis. But it advent of global terrorism. In this section, we happens all the time. Media provide crucial offer a combination of remedial strategies, which channels of communication to both the crisis may inform efforts to build critical systems that management response network and the outside function reliably, safely and efficiently. world. They set the stage on which the One way out of this designer’s Catch 22 is performance of crisis managers will be to build resilient systems (Wildavsky, 1998). evaluated. Yet, crisis managers all too often Resilient infrastructures are systems that ‘fail wield an instrumental stick at the media. They gracefully’, which means that chain reactions often persist in an ‘us versus them’ mentality. and escalation of incidents are quickly stopped All this demonstrates a gross underestimation (the cause of propagation is ‘isolated’) and of media forces, which constitutes a significant addressed without bringing the entire system problem for public managers. down. Resilience also means that a system ‘bounces back’ quickly after an incident occurs. Underestimating post-crisis challenges. The most Resilient systems have become the Holy Grail complex challenges to public authorities often for the managers of critical infrastructures. emerge after the operational demands of the It is sometimes thought that resilience is an crisis have been addressed. When exhausted expensive design option. It undoubtedly can policy-makers are ready to return to the be, but it does not have to be that way. If ‘normal’ issues of government, they discover resilience can only be achieved through adding that most crises cast a long shadow (‘t Hart and major redundancies and parallel systems, Boin, 2001). They will have to engage in the efficiency suffers. But in so-called ‘high politics of post-crisis management, which reliability organizations’ (HROs), resilience is revolves around accountability issues and accomplished through organizational and learning the right lessons. Not only are most managerial mechanisms (Rochlin, 1996; policy-makers unprepared for this crisis phase, Schulman et al., 2004). A good degree of they often fail to recognize the relevance of that autonomy for ‘reliability experts’—those mid- phase. Survivor groups, journalists and level operators who handle real-time opposition forces will quickly demonstrate just contingencies—apparently goes a long way how important that phase is. Underestimating (Schulman et al., 2004). The HRO principles the potential for a ‘crisis after the crisis’ is yet have a dual-use quality: they not only make a another avoidable error. system more reliable, they also increase its routine performance (Weick et al., 1999). These lessons have been learned at considerable Terrorism creates the need for additional cost to those organizations that have defence mechanisms that improve system safety experienced the demands of crisis. In response without undermining efficiency. This has to crisis episodes and related management proved exceedingly hard, as the rising costs of failures, policy-makers all too often introduce airlines and airports suggest. These costs have reform that incorporates these well- risen dramatically because of additional layers documented failure factors. In their efforts to of security that do nothing to make the process improve crisis management structures and of checking in any faster. Only the development policies, policy-makers end up reinventing the and implementation of smart technologies can wheel. If the findings of crisis management help: the special programs for privileged fliers research are taken seriously, a list of rely on expensive technology (iris scans), but prescriptions would be adopted that is similar these technologies have the potential of to the one outlined in the next section of this speeding up check-in procedures. This does article. not take away the need for human © 2006 THE AUTHORS JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006
  8. 8. 302 interpretation, but it does make the case for complex dilemmas and the impossible choices, experimenting with technological the tolls of stress and the continuing politics. advancements. They must learn to use simple checklists that The introduction of new technologies that will improve their crisis management promise to promote safety frequently run into performance: balance short and long-term fierce opposition of concerned citizens. What effects of a decision; make sure you hear makes a technology smart is its ability to perform contrarian views; leave operational decisions routine tasks at high speeds and without to the professionals; stick with the political errors—something humans do not excel at. decisions that must be made—and make them; Smart technologies can help to identify facilitate emerging co-ordination rather than suspicious behaviour in crowded public places, imposing ready-made designs; engage with glean patterns from large chunks of the media in a proactive manner. They don’t communication data, monitor illegal have to fully understand the technical nature movements and track the movements of people of these systems, but they have to know the and goods (Baer et al., 2005). Opponents fear experts and know how to work with them. that these technologies could be used against Crisis exercises and simulations make for citizens (which is conceivable) and therefore better crisis management. The mayor of New oppose their introduction. While the concerns York City, Rudolph Giuliani, credited the series may or may not be valid, blind opposition does of crisis management exercises held before the not help. It may be more fruitful to engage in 9/11 attacks in explaining the effective response a thorough discussion about the limits of privacy of the New York’s response network. Experts for all those who partake in the benefits of agree. Regular simulation exercises nurture modern infrastructure. awareness of crisis management complexities, This is, in effect, a new philosophy of risk hone decision-making skills, and allow members that spells out what citizens may expect from of the response network to get to know and their governments and, importantly, where understand each other. the responsibility of government ends. This is Effective preparation of crisis management not a matter of legal wrangling. It is simply a includes the active formation of networks with matter of clarifying the level of safety provided media representatives, external stakeholders, by government, and at what price. In the and a variety of experts. Once a crisis has absence of such a discussion, even minor materialized, there is usually no time to look breakdowns in critical infrastructures for the right people and interact with them on automatically come to be seen as a governmental a basis of trust. Effective crisis response responsibility. It should become clear what operations can draw on networks that have governments are actually capable of doing, existed for years. It takes a consistent, long- given their rather limited say in public–private term effort to create such a network. For the partnerships and the sheer impossibility of management of infrastructure breakdowns, protecting open infrastructures from evil-doers. which requires intense co-operation between The open nature of critical infrastructures public authorities and private partners, this suggests that these design debates should not form of preparation is essential. solely focus on terrorism. In the first hours of This networking must include international an infrastructure breakdown, terrorism can partners as critical infrastructures have become rarely be ruled out as a cause. When the internet increasingly intertwined with international goes down, or when deadly bacteria are detected networks. A breakdown that finds its origin in drinking water, we have no way of somewhere ‘out there’ poses new constraints determining whether it is terrorism or a ‘normal on those who try to manage the consequences. accident’ (Perrow, 1984). A focus on terrorism In recent years, the EU has gradually evolved is, in fact, unnecessarily limiting. An all-hazards a role as the protector of European citizens approach seems more adequate when it comes should transboundary breakdowns occur (Boin to designing resilient systems. et al., 2006). However, to count on the EU may One of the simplest and cheapest ways to not qualify as an effective strategy for resilience! increase system resilience is to enhance the capacity of public managers to manage Conclusions infrastructure breakdowns. Policy-makers must In discussing the implications that the new be trained to deal with this type of crises. They terrorism may hold for the public must learn the regularities of infrastructure management of critical infrastructures, we breakdowns: the organizational issues that will bring together at least four bodies of analysis emerge, the faltering information flows, the and discourse: © 2006 THE AUTHORS PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006 JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA
  9. 9. 303 •Terrorism. 380, 8493, pp. 20–22. •Public–private partnerships. Anon. (2006b), Five years on. How George Bush •Critical infrastructure fought back against al-Qaeda’s assault, and •Crisis management. what he got wrong. The Economist, 380, 8493, pp. 9–10. Each of these bodies is relatively young, wrestles Baer, M., Heron, K., Morton, O. and Ratliff, E. with elementary questions (such as key (2005), Safe: The Race to Protect Ourselves in a definitions), has trouble separating facts from Newly Dangerous World (Harper Collins, New opinion, and continues to evolve. This York). observation is not offered as a disclaimer but, Bawer, B. (2006), While Europe Slept. How Radical rather, as a landmark for future avenues of Islam is Destroying the West From Within collaborative research, (Doubleday, New York). Such research is needed, even if the key Boin, R. A., ‘t Hart, P., Stern, E. and Sunelius, B. findings culled from the various literatures (2005), The Politics of Crisis Management: Public provide sufficient pointers for immediate action. Leadership under Pressure (Cambridge University The challenges for public managers are clear, Press, Cambridge). the easily avoidable pitfalls have been identified, Boin, R. A., Ekengren, M. and Rhinard, M. and a set of simple best practices all await (2006), Protecting the union: analysing an implementation. While practitioners can and emerging policy space. Journal of European indeed should move ahead to address these Integration (forthcoming). challenges, academics must urgently commit Bossie, D. N. (2004), Intelligence Failure. How to new research endeavours. Clinton’s National Security Policy Set the Stage for What is needed above all, and quite 9/11 (WorldNetDaily Books, Nashville). urgently, is research that addresses the Cesari, J. (2004), When Islam and Democracy Meet: challenge of designing resilience into our critical Muslims in Europe and in the United States infrastructures. If terrorist attacks cannot be (Palgrave Macmillan, New York). prevented, and if there is only so much public Comfort, L. K. (Ed) (1988), Managing Disasters: managers can do in the immediate and long- Strategies and Policy Perspectives (Duke University term aftermath of an attack, we depend on the Press, Durham). ability of citizens and technological structures Corlett, J. A. (2003), Terrorism. A Philosophical to fail gracefully and recover quickly. Inserting Approach (Kluwer Academic Publishers, a dose of resilience cannot take away from Dordrecht). efficiency and effectiveness criteria, as this Crenshaw, M. (2004), Terrorism, strategies, and appears to be acceptable to the modern citizen. grand strategies. In Cronin, A. K. and Ludes, Rather than ‘re-educating’ citizens, we must J. M. (Eds), Attacking Terrorism. Elements of a find ‘dual use’ mechanisms that increase both Grand Strategy (Georgetown University Press, resilience and other citizen priorities at the Washington D.C.), pp. 74–93. same time. Cronin, A. K. (2004), Sources of contemporary It is not clear whether this is possible, but terrorism. In Cronin, A. K. and Ludes, J. M. academics should work to find out. Breaking (Eds), Attacking Terrorism. Elements of a Grand this new ground requires truly Strategy (Georgetown University Press, multidisciplinary efforts, which academics Washington D.C.), pp. 19–45. love to talk about yet rarely practice. If we Elliott, M. (2006), Such lovely lads. Why do so engage in this type of research, it may actually many young British Muslims turn to violence result in a safer society. ■ against the land where they were raised? Time, 168, 9, pp. 18–19. Acknowledgements Flynn, S. (2004), America the Vulnerable. How Our The authors would like to thank Andrew Gray Government is Failing to Protect Us From Terrorism and Michaela Lavender for facilitating the (Harper Collins Publishers, New York). review of this article. All errors of omission and Gerges, F. A. (2005), The Far Enemy. Why Jihad commission remain those of the authors. Went Global (Cambridge University Press, New York). References Griffin, D. R. (2004), The New Pearl Harbour. Ahmed, N. M. (2006), The London Bombings: An Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration Independent Inquiry (Gerald Duckworth & Co., and 9/11 (Arris Books, Moreton-in-Marsh). London). Guillemin, J. (2005), Biological Weapons. From the Anon. (2006a), America’s longest war. Special Invention of State-Sponsored Programs to report September 11th 2001. The Economist, Contemporary Bioterrorism (Columbia University © 2006 THE AUTHORS JOURNAL COMPILATION © 2006 CIPFA PUBLIC MONEY & MANAGEMENT NOVEMBER 2006
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