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Public Policy and Administration


Tim Bagwell


The U.S. government is responsible for protecting the country's energy and technology infrastructure. Critics argue the United States has failed to prepare, protect and respond to incidents involving the national electric grid leaving communities vulnerable to prolonged power outages. Protection of investor owned utilities' critical infrastructure is vulnerable to cyber and physical harm from the absence of criminalizing the intrusion of private sector computer networks, the lack of cybersecurity threats in emergency management, and the absence of cyber-intelligent leadership supports this argument. The purpose of this study was to introduce an electric grid protection theoretical concept, while identifying whether cybersecurity law and emergency management, amongst the investor-owned utility community, has an optimized relationship for protecting the national electric grid from harm. Easton's political system input/output model, Sommestad's cybersecurity theory, and Mitroff's crisis management theory provided the theoretical foundations for this study. The study utilized a mixed method research design that incorporated a Likert collection survey and combined quantitative chi-square and qualitative analysis. The key findings identified that cybersecurity law and the use of emergency management in the electric grid protection theory were not optimized to protect the national electric grid from harm. The recommendations of this study included the optimization of the theory elements through educational outreach and amending administrative cybersecurity law to improve the protection of the national electric grid and positively impacting social change by safeguarding the delivery of reliable electric energy to the millions of Americans who depend upon it.