WASHINGTON – With British Petroleum coming under increasing fire for being poorly prepared to respond to a catastrophic oil spill such as the one playing out now in the Gulf of Mexico, the Chairmen of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees Tuesday praised the Administration for moving forward to implement a voluntary program to help private sector companies develop preparedness, response, and business continuity plans.

Senator Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., sent a letter June 3, 2010, to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano criticizing the implementation of the Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep), as it was far behind schedule. They also urged Secretary Napolitano to take quick action to get the program running. The program was required by legislation passed by Congress almost three years ago. The Department announced its standards for the program Tuesday.

“Time and again, the value of being prepared for a catastrophe reaps dividends in fewer lives lost and a quicker return to business,” Lieberman said. “All of us share a responsibility for being prepared, and the more we are prepared, the more resilient we will be in recovering from a catastrophe. Given that the private sector owns 85 percent of our critical infrastructure – communications, energy, and financial networks, for example – the private sector needs to contribute to the preparedness effort. I’m happy to see DHS finally taking this important step and continue to urge them to get this critical program up and running in the very near future.”

Thompson said: “This announcement represents a step in the right direction. Given what is happening in the Gulf Coast, PS-Prep and its voluntary standards is a tool that the private sector can utilize to be better prepared when disaster strikes. I will continue to work with the Secretary to ensure PS-Prep is fully implemented and widely promoted.”