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OSI Welcomes US President's Executive Order Prohibiting Use of Foreign Technologies in Bulk-Power Industry

On May 1, 2020, the Trump Administration responded to the threat to the U.S. bulk-power system presented by the unrestricted acquisition and use of foreign-supplied bulk-power system electric equipment and technology by U.S. utilities. The use of such technology—designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by vendors under the jurisdiction, control, or direction of "foreign adversaries"—invites bad actors to create and exploit vulnerabilities in this vital industry.

According to the administration, "The bulk-power system is a target of those seeking to commit malicious acts against the United States and its people, including malicious cyber activities, because a successful attack on our bulk-power system would present significant risks to our economy, human health and safety, and would render the United States less capable of acting in defense of itself and its allies."

To mitigate this, the President has signed an Executive Order prohibiting the acquisition, importation, transfer, or installation of any bulk-power system electric equipment that meets the following criteria:

  • Designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary

  • Poses an undue risk of sabotage to or subversion of the design, integrity, manufacturing, production, distribution, installation, operation, or maintenance of the bulk-power system in the United States

  • Poses an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resiliency of United States critical infrastructure or the economy of the United States

A task force on federal energy infrastructure procurement policies related to national security has been established and will develop recommendations for identifying, isolating, monitoring, or replacing such items, taking into consideration overall risk to the U.S. bulk-power system.

OSI fully supports these measures, particularly as they relate to promoting and developing a robust domestic technology industry while enhancing our critical infrastructure protection in the utility sector through the discontinuation of the use of vulnerable foreign-made technologies, products, services, and processes. OSI believes this directive should not solely apply to passive equipment, but should inherently apply to intelligent equipment that has either firmware or software associated with it that can be negatively impacted by a cyber breach or pre-embedded malware.

These measures are especially critical for systems controlling a utility's equipment and the grid as a whole, and should apply to automation and control systems widely used by utilities across the entire grid. Although bulk power is the immediate focus of this Executive Order, it is also intended to encompass critical distribution grids. Not long ago, the United States was the primary exporter of these technologies; today there are only a handful of companies producing equipment and systems in the USA or Canada. Many have either been acquired by foreign concerns or have moved their design, manufacturing, and support operations outside the U.S. to lower-cost technology development centers with little or no supply chain control. Foreign companies with potentially objectionable partnerships with and ties to U.S. adversaries are routinely found supplying the U.S. utility industry today.

"Regardless of one's political outlook, all U.S. citizens and utility organizations should view these efforts to safeguard the bulk-power system as laudable," said OSI CEO Bahman Hoveida. "The threats facing our industry cannot be overstated, nor can their potentially catastrophic consequences be ignored. Any initiatives designed to effectively combat them should be embraced fully. Buying U.S.-made technology not only makes great sense in helping our economy today, now it may be an even more important imperative to help safeguard our nation's critical utility infrastructure."

Open Systems International (www.osii.com)—an American technology company headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota—provides open, state-of-the-art and high-performance enterprise automation solutions to utilities worldwide. These solutions include Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Energy Management Systems (EMS), Distribution Management Systems (DMS), Outage Management Systems (OMS), Generation Management Systems (GMS), Substation Automation (SA) Systems, Data Warehousing (Historian) Analytics, Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems (DERMS), Situational Awareness Systems, Pipeline Application Systems (PAS), individual software and hardware products, and Smart Grid solutions for utility operations. OSI's solutions empower its users to meet their operational challenges, day in and day out, with unsurpassed reliability and a minimal cost of technology ownership and maintenance.

For additional information regarding this news release, please contact news@osii.com.