Today the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published a 30-day information collection request (ICR) notice in the Federal Register (77 FR 71431) to support their new Highway Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) Program. This program will replace the TSA’s Highway Corporate Security Reviews.
According to today’s ICR notice the “TSA's Highway BASE program seeks to establish the current state of security gaps and implemented countermeasures throughout the highway mode of transportation by posing questions to major transportation asset owners and operators”. The TSA expects to conduct about 750 on-site assessments under this ICR on an annual basis with each assessment lasting about 3 hours.
The notice states that there were four comments filed on the earlier 60-day ICR notice (77 FR 3162), but since those comments were not solicited or filed via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (www.Regulations.gov) there is no readily available source for reviewing those comments. This notice only informs us that:
“Two comments were unrelated to the ICR. The remaining two comments were requests for program information.”
According to the earlier 60-day notice the program will exclude “hazardous materials shippers and carriers as per agreement with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)” (77 FR 31633). While the remaining trucking industry will be covered by the TSA security effort the most critical component from the point of view of the potential risk of chemical attacks on large segments of the population via terrorist attacks on HazMat shipments (anhydrous ammonia, or chlorine for example). While I understand that DOT (federal and State) has many more inspectors, but TSA has primary responsibility (and supposedly the expertise) for transportation security, not DOT.
OMB needs to resolve this conflict of regulatory responsibility between DOT(PHMSA) and DHS(TSA). This ICR would be a good vehicle to initiate efforts to make DHS actually responsible for the security of HazMat transportation.