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President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Visitors to our site should feel free to address their questions to us via e-mail. Below we have presented answers to some of the most common questions we have received during the course of the Commission's work.

Q: How can I get a copy of your report?

A: The Commission's report, Critical Foundations: Protecting America's Infrastructures, is available in electronic format at this Web site. Please see our Report Materials Page to read or download the files that comprise the report.

Hard copy versions of the report are available for purchase from the United States Government Printing Office. We have posted a page with details on purchasing copies of the report. Note: The second printing of this report became available in May 1998. If you unsuccessfully tried to purchase a copy in March or April 1998, Critical Foundations is back in print and available for purchase.

Q: Can I make a link to your Web site?

A: You should feel free to make a hyperlink to the PCCIP's Web site on your own Web pages. You do not need to notify us.

Q: What threats are out there?

A: Threats to these infrastructures fall into two categories: physical threats to tangible property ("physical threats"), and threats of electronic, radio-frequency, or computer-based attacks on the information or communications components that control critical infrastructures ("cyber threats").

Q: Hasn't this area been studied before?

A: No. While there have been a number of reviews in specific areas of computer security and emergency preparedness, for example, the Commission's job was unprecedented in scope. The Commission was tasked to bring together the combined forces of the private industry and government to develop a national strategy for protecting and assuring the continued operation of this nation's critical infrastructures.

Q: What was the mission of the Commission?

A: The Commission's basic mission was to advise and assist the President by recommending a national strategy for protecting and assuring critical infrastructures. To do this, the Commission identified and categorized threats (physical or cyber), considered vulnerabilities, and developed policy and legislative options necessary to effect the recommendations and implement the plan. (More information on the PCCIP's mission objectives can be found on another page.)

Q: What was the structure of the Commission? Who reported to whom?

A: The Commission was composed of up to 20 people from within and outside federal government, i.e., state government and private industry. It was led by a Chairman designated by the President. It received advice from an Advisory Committee composed of private sector leaders. The Commission forwarded its recommendations through a Steering Committee, which oversaw the Commission's work, to the Principals Committee. The Principals Committee reviewed any reports or recommendations before submission to the President for consideration. (Please refer to our Organization Page for more information on this topic.)

Questions on Year 2000 Issues

Q: What is the Year 2000 issue as understood by the PCCIP?

A: In the early years of computers, data storage space was at a premium, and to save space the date was written as a two-digit code. Many of the older computer systems which remain in use today still have the two-digit date code. The problem arises when an older computer system tries to use the year 2000 date because it thinks the date is 1900, not 2000. This misreading can potentially cause serious problems, the extent and scope of which are not fully understood.

Q: Did the PCCIP look at the Year 2000 issue?

A: Yes. As a part of its overall research on the vulnerabilities of America's infrastructures, the Commission considered the problems that may arise from the inability of some computers and other automated systems to properly process dates beyond December 31, 1999.

Q: Did the Commission have the ability to classify its work?

A: Yes, in February 1997 the Chairman of the PCCIP was granted original classification authority by the President of the United States. This grant of authority did not amend Executive Order 13010. It was a Presidential grant of authority in accordance with the provisions of Executive Order 12958 and was separate and distinct from Executive Order 13010.

Q: A mid-1997 posting to an Internet discussion group on Year 2000 issues indicated that you considered Year 2000 as deserving of a Top Secret classification. Is this true?

A: No.

Q: Did the PCCIP do any classified work on the Year 2000 issue?

A: No, the Commission does not anticipate classifying any report or other material it may eventually generate on this issue.

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