iCASA Will Be Unique Public-Private-Academic Venture

[Ed. note: This press release came from the office of Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Joe Skeen.]

Chris Gallegos/Domenici (202) 224-7092
Selma Sierra/Skeen (202) 225-6989

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 7, 2001 -- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici and Congressman Joe Skeen, both R-N.M., today announced that a New Mexico university will host a new cooperative center whose national security work will serve to help protect U.S. computer, telecommunications or power systems vulnerable to failure or cyber attack.

Domenici and Skeen said the new Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (iCASA) will be housed at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, N.M. iCASA is a unique cooperative endeavor between the Defense Department, other federal agencies, academia and the private sector. It is funded through a $5 million appropriation secured by the two New Mexico lawmakers in the FY2001 Defense Appropriations Act.

iCASA will be dedicated to the analysis of complex interdependent systems, i.e., networks and critical infrastructures--electrical grids, water distribution systems, and the computer networks on which they rely. In addition to developing fundamental comprehension of large-scale systems, iCASA will also focus on training and education of future experts to deal with assuring the stability of interdependent systems in the United States.

"iCASA will begin addressing one of the most complex vulnerabilities facing the United States today. This is not the threat of mass destruction, but rather mass disruption. The unintended or deliberate disruption to any number of the daily functions upon which our military, as well as our economic prosperity, rely could be catastrophic," Domenici said.

"As public officials it is our responsibility to ensure that our national security and most critical information systems are safe from attacks. We must provide the necessary training and education to maintain the highest level of security for our information systems," Skeen said.

New Mexico Tech’s Department of Computer Science, Engineering and Management, together with iCASA’s private and public sector partners will focus on state-of-the-art science and systems analysis, thus expanding the ability to model, analyze and manage complex systems.

"The work of New Mexico Tech, the Information Operations Technology Center and others will attempt to more clearly assess vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructures. Not only will iCASA model and define these complex systems, they will develop means to protect and defend them from disruption," Domenici said.

"The rapid development and commercialization of complex information technology has contributed significantly to our economic standing. At the same time, we must also take steps to guard against individuals and groups who attempt to illegally access and attack our most critical information and telecommunication systems," Skeen said.

Through iCASA, New Mexico Tech will become a center for training the military and private sector experts needed to ensure that the United States’ critical information infrastructures are reliable and safe from deliberate attack. U.S. leaders believe the nation is vulnerable because of shortfalls in an educated workforce trained with the technical and organizational expertise to understand these interconnected, complex systems.

"I am proud that New Mexico Tech had the foresight to tackle this educational and national security challenge. This Institute will offer a critical capability to New Mexico and provide greater means to address a significant national security challenge," Domenici said.

Dennis Peterson, New Mexico Tech Vice President of Finances, iCASA director; and, Dr. Rich Colbaugh, iCASA technical director, both participated in today’s Capitol Hill announcement. New Mexico Tech is recognized as one of the nation’s important research universities that specializes in science and engineering. It has worked with the Information Operations Technology Center to develop new concepts and methods for assessing the vulnerabilities of evolving complex infrastructures.

The educational component of the iCASA mission is also being supported by the state of New Mexico. The New Mexico Legislature has provided $200,000 to help fund academic programs at iCASA.