Welcome to the Critical Infrastructure Protection Oral History Project, a program of the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University.

Our multi-faceted project documents the history of the nation’s efforts to protect what has come to be calledcritical infrastructure—the systems and structures that are vital to the smooth and safe functioning of our economy, society, and way of life. Examples of critical infrastructure include the country’s electrical grid, banking network, distribution pipelines, transportation corridors, and emergency response systems, among other things. Many of these systems are interdependent and rely on computer technology to operate.

What you’ll find on this website

The CIP Oral History Project website includes several components: Archive, Bibliography, Overview,Narratives and Timeline. The Search function will allow you to search the entire website by keyword for items of interest.

A major focus of the CIP Oral History Project is an ongoing interview program centered on the evolution of critical infrastructure protection—or CIP—during the 1980s and 1990s, up to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security in November 2002. Many of our interviewees are federal policymakers who have helped to shape and guide the CIP debate at the highest levels of government. You’ll find summaries of their interview transcripts in the Archive. The full transcripts are available in George Mason University’sSpecial Collections at Fenwick Library.

Another important oral history initiative is found under Narratives. We are eager to hear from people whose lives or livelihoods have been touched by CIP. Perhaps your career involves some aspect of security? A computer system? Building? Reservoir? Pipeline? Or perhaps you’ve experienced first-hand how a failure in one system can impact other systems in ways that are not obvious until an emergency or crisis catches us off-guard. If you have a story, experience, opinions or insights to share with us, we hope you will take a few moments to fill out the online form so that we can add your comments to our growing database. Just click onNarratives, answer the questions, and submit.

In addition to gathering first-hand insights into recent CIP history, our project also looks at the broad historical context of CIP in the United States during the last three centuries. The Overview sketches out some of the major issues in CIP, supplemented by a Timeline offering a detailed overview of key events and developments in CIP history. The Archive provides easy access to a collection of materials selected for their relevance to the “big picture” of CIP. The Bibliography gives suggestions for additional background reading available from other sources.

Enjoy your visit and please let us know how we can improve this website or contact us if you have any questions.