Cover: Interdependence Across the National Critical Functions

Interdependence Across the National Critical Functions

Published Feb 6, 2023

by Shannon Prier, Aaron Strong, Jonathan W. Welburn

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In 2019, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) introduced a set of 55 National Critical Functions (NCFs) to "guide national risk management efforts". The NCFs were a fundamental shift aimed at enabling the identification and prioritization of systemic risks to critical infrastructure. Additionally, they highlight the importance of interdependence. The interdependence of NCFs, driven by a variety of processes including the output linkages of one to another, can result in the creation of systemic risk out of seemingly isolated risks. The fundamental drivers are familiar to the risk analysis community. Cascading risk can drive the potential propagation of failures across NCFs while common cause failures can result in simultaneous failure of multiple NCFs due the same underlying driver. These systemic risks can traverse network dependencies ranging from economic to software to policy. Additionally, NCF interdependencies can also have positive consequences through enhanced resilience; following a disruption to a pipeline, for example, alternative transportation modes, such as rail, might be used to overcome the consequences of the disruptions. In this paper, we provide a novel interpretation of NCFs to enhance their use for research by the risk analysis community. We provide a conceptual framework of NCF interdependence leveraging a review of relevant literatures. We then provide a path to mapping of many (though not all) NCFs to economic sectors enabling their study using accepted methods like input-output analysis. We use this mapping to provide value-added multipliers for each NCF and a ranking to indicate their relative interdependence within economic networks. In examining economic interdependence, we found that Operate Core Network, Provide Capital Markets and Investment Activities, Provide Radio Broadcast Access Network Services, and Educate and Train rise to the top of the list when NCFs are ranked by their economic multipliers. Finally, we discuss our investigations on the role of interdependence across NCFs and provide recommendations on how policymakers should think about them and how analysts can model them.

The research described in this report was conducted by the Infrastructure, Immigration, and Security Operations Program within the RAND Homeland Security Research Division.

This report is part of the RAND working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

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