Saturday, January 12, 2013

Four Months since the 1 Month CFATS Promise

Yesterday saw the passing of the four month anniversary of Under Secretary Beers’ promise to Congress that ISCD would publish a new personnel surety program information collection request (ICR) in the Federal register within 30 days of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. We are still waiting for the publication of this program which would allow high-risk chemical facilities to vet their employees against the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB).

The 113th Congress is now in session. One of the things that is certainly going to come up in the opening months of this Congress is the continued funding of the CFATS program. The House Appropriations Committee made it clear last year that they intended to drastically cut the funding for this program. One of the reasons given was the inability to meet program milestones; this personnel surety failure further feeds that complaint. A funding bill will need to be approved before March 27th when the interim FY 2013 bill expires. And the 2014 budget process will begin shortly thereafter.

In the coming weeks we will certainly expect members of the House and Senate to begin to introduce their comprehensive chemical security bills that can be expected to address the continuation of the CFATS program. This year, for the first time, I fully expect to see a bill introduced to cancel the program. It is unlikely to pass, but failures of ISCD to move the program forward in a timely manner will be the impetus for the introduction of the bill.

Beers, who many expect to be on the short list to replace Secretary Napolitano, needs to get his house in order. The personnel issues that periodically raise their ugly head here and in other publications must be resolved. And the CFATS program needs to start moving forward with their oft delayed, and very slow site security plan (SSP) approval process. And the personnel surety program that must be an integral part of those SSP’s must be put into place.

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