Creating public-private partnerships (PPPs) can deliver the best attributes of both sectors. Domestically, PPPs often allow government agencies to gain private sector efficiencies on large projects and initiatives.
For their part, law enforcement and Homeland Security agencies can facilitate trade by helping protect critical infrastructure. These can include banking and financial institutions, telecommunications networks, and energy production and transmission facilities. Upward of 85% of such infrastructure in the U.S. is owned by private organizations.
The same is true for international trade. As attendees at a recent U.S.-Mexico Border Security Summit learned, collaboration can help ensure security and efficient logistics along a shared 2,000-mile border. PPPs can address or improve counter-terrorism efforts, threats to critical infrastructure, border security breaches, supply chain security in intermodal transportation, traveler safety and technology trends in global security operation centers.
By collaborating, public agencies can share key international data that private industry otherwise doesn’t have access to. Policy makers and agency heads, in turn, can learn from the private sector about facilitating efficient commerce.
A host of security-focused PPP programs exist for private company participation. These include the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT); the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), and country council engagement; Infraguard, a collaborative effort between businesses, academic institutions, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), state and local law enforcement agencies; and the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), a partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector aimed at protecting the critical U.S. infrastructure.
The need for such cross border security collaboration has been addressed at the highest levels of the U.S. government. In 2012, the White House released its National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security. The document sought to promote efficient and secure movement of goods, reduce vulnerabilities and disruptions, and improve resilience in the supply chain. It noted how nations “have a shared, mutual interest in working collaboratively to strengthen this vital global asset.”
And while PPPs can have their inherent conflicts – such as private sector’s pursuit of innovation and efficiency being stymied by the public sector’s need for safety, stability and predictability – it still holds true that one of the best ways to mitigate security threats against business is to increase collaboration between government agencies and the private sector.
To achieve mutual benefits, though, private and public sectors alike must recognize that ensuring efficient commerce and reliable security require a synergistic approach. This can help meet the needs of industry and government, whether domestically or across borders.