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Policy Statement 500 - Physical Infrastructure Security


Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 26, 2009
Approved by the Policy Review Committee March 27, 2009
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 25, 2009
First Approved in 2003


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports protection of the built environment through research, planning, design, construction and operation and maintenance initiatives that increase the reliability and resilience of the nation's physical infrastructure against man-made and natural hazards. Development of consistent, national standards that address interdependencies and establish minimum performance goals is imperative. Furthermore, an all-hazard risk assessment that addresses recovery and return to service should be routinely included in the planning/design process at the national, state, and local levels. Understanding the impact of the loss of infrastructure, along with the duration and cost of restoring its function, is an important element to adding disaster resilience to the nation's infrastructure. The opportunity to increase the nation's disaster resilience must be a top priority.


Recent world events focused the attention on physical infrastructure vulnerabilities. The United States needs to provide for security and in the event of damage, for restoration of function of the critical physical infrastructure that is the foundation of the U.S. economy.

Risk assessment and other research are currently being conducted in this area. An all-hazards risk assessment, including recovery and return to service; should be incorporated into planning, engineering design, construction and operation and maintenance activities. New planning, design, construction and operation and maintenance initiatives will be critical to homeland security and should be coordinated among federal agencies.

One benefit that a rational risk assessment can provide is a determination — or at least, an informed estimate - of the relative likelihood of occurrence between the various possible threats and hazards. This can serve as a vital resource for policymakers, in determining how to distribute the public's expenditures aimed at addressing the various threats and mitigating predictable disasters.


The deliberate events of September 11, 2001 as well as the hurricanes of 2005 and 2006 brought into focus the vulnerability of the nation's physical infrastructure from a variety of sources. The civil engineering profession provides leadership for planning, designing, building, and maintaining the nation's physical infrastructure.

ASCE Policy Statement 500