Another area that deserves consideration is the implementation of control systems and software. Currently, many organizations hire professional engineers for design but leave the implementation, including network and programming, to the contractor.

However, most contractors proficient with construction of critical infrastructure are specialized in civil and mechanical construction and therefore must depend on subcontractors—also known as system integrators—for the implementation of the control system.

Many times these system integrators are third-tier subcontractors hired by electrical subcontractors who also do not have the in-house expertise to implement these systems. Many system integrators are highly qualified, but others are not. Some have personnel with questionable experience, character and ethics. With threats to critical infrastructure on the rise, it is time asset owners and regulators begin requiring professional registration for design and implementation of these critical
assets. 

Daniel A. Groves is principal consultant at Red Oak Consulting, an ARCADIS group based in Phoenix. He can be e-mailed at