Friday, January 20, 2012

Latest Edition of CRS Report on Chemical Security

Yesterday Steven Aftergood, over at Secrecy News (a publication of the Federation of American Scientists) published a link to the latest Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on Chemical Facility Security. This is a recurring report on the CFATS program providing Congress with a summary of the issues and options that Congress might have for dealing with those issues.

I’ve written about earlier versions of this report and as is usual for the CRS this latest version provides a good summary of the CFATS program and the political issues currently facing the program. Of special interest is the funding summary chart provided on page 4 (page 8 according to Adobe) and the chart describing the current number of facilities regulated under CFATS by tier on page 5 (9 Adobe). The CRS researchers provide information in these charts that is not generally and/or readily available to the public.

The report also provides the most current numbers (2011 year-end) for the inspection process at CFATS facilities. It reports (page 7 – 11 Adobe) that DHS has conducted 180 pre-authorization inspections, has approved 50 site security plans (presumably a little over half of the current Tier 1 facilities) and has yet to complete a single implementation security inspection (insuring compliance with the site security plan). I suppose that the 180 pre-authorization inspections means that these have started on the Tier 2 facilities, but it could also mean some number of multiple inspections at Tier 1 facilities.

For the first time I find that I am going to have to criticize a portion of the report, the section dealing with the current management issues. The single paragraph describing these problems the CRS report mainly relies on the article that most of us have also had to rely upon. The only information received from DHS on this subject was personal communications between the report author and the “Department of Homeland Security” on January 5th that confirmed that Under Secretary Beers had requested the report and that “DHS expects to assess the success of

the action plan and revise it as necessary” (page 8 - 12 Adobe). Obviously the CRS researcher was not given access to the DHS report, a serious DHS shortcoming in my opinion.

Given that only shortcoming (and it is certainly not the fault of the CRS author, Dana A Shea) I still recommend that anyone interested in chemical facility security or its regulation and legislation to get and read this report. Kudos to FAS for making these CRS reports readily (and freely) accessible to the public that paid for them.

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