The primary goal of the U.S. Resilience Project (USRP) is to advance cutting-edge resilience policies, practices, and public-private partnerships through the following:
Warning: Turbulence ahead.The one thing we know with certainty is that the future will be volatile and uncertain. Coping with climate and market instability, resource constraints, disruptive changes in markets and technologies, infrastructure interdependencies, terrorist threats, and black swans demands agility, adaptability, risk intelligence, and resilience. The USRP will document the capabilities and competencies needed to cope with volatility and unpredictability.
Capturing the business case for resilience. Given the complexities of global infrastructure and interdependencies, it is impossible to accurately predict every possible risk trigger. Instead, global business leaders are creating new practices, processes, tools, technologies, metrics, and governance structures that rely on agility and adaptability. The USRP will capture emerging best practices and processes that enable companies to respond to unforeseen events, while maintaining critical functions and customer service.
Building best practices into national strategies. Existing best practices in enterprise resilience already go a long way toward serving national mission needs, but they are not always integrated into government strategies. The reason? Business capabilities and competencies that can serve national missions are often not created for those purposes. For example, Walmart’s supply chain agility, which received national attention for its effectiveness in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, was developed for inventory management; its relevance to disaster relief was recognized only after the crisis hit. The USRP will match private-sector best practices to public-sector mission needs, with a focus on capabilities and competencies.
Valuing the 75 percent solution. The government typically focuses on low-frequency, catastrophic events, while businesses manage a broader spectrum of risks that often stop short of “outlier” events. This difference in perspective often blurs the fact that the processes developed to manage day-to-day risks in the private sector also create competencies to cope with catastrophic events. The USRP can identify how these capabilities can contribute to national preparedness and resilience, and demonstrate that even a partial solution can free up government resources to fill gaps that commercial practices do not address. As former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff recently noted: “Even a 75 percent private-sector solution can take a lot of hay off the government’s wagon.”
Creating two-way partnerships. The ability of the public and private sectors to partner effectively depends, in large part, on whether the two sectors can define and accept their respective roles and responsibilities. These must be determined based not only on what must be done, but also on which stakeholder has the best capability to do it. The USRP can help create a new framework for partnership by using commercial best practices as a basis for defining the roles and responsibilities of private-sector partners.
Debra van Opstal, director of the USRP, was formerly a senior vice president at the Council on Competitiveness, where she was responsible for developing new programmatic concepts and ensuring cutting-edge quality and synergies among the Council’s research programs. Ms. Van Opstal also served as the secretary to the Council’s board of directors and led the Council’s work on enterprise resilience, authoring Transform: The Resilient Economy.
Dana Martin, deputy director of the USRP, was formerly chief of staff and secretary to the board at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, led by former North Atlantic Treaty Organization Ambassador Dr. David Abshire. In that capacity, Mr. Martin managed a full-time staff of 20 and up to 20 additional contract employees and interns. Mr. Martin also supervised the development, organization, and implementation of the Center’s research projects.
Denise Swink, senior advisor to the USRP, developed expert knowledge of electric power issues—reliability, safety, security, and resilience—as deputy director and acting director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Assurance, and deputy assistant secretary of DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Industrial Technologies. A member of the Senior Executive Service, Ms. Swink has more than 35 years of experience in management and supervisory positions, with key expertise in public-private partnerships, electric infrastructure development, and interdependencies with other infrastructures.