Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reader Email – PSP Terrorist Match Notifications

A long time reader with more than a little experience in government regulatory affairs sent me a brief email yesterday about my recent blog post on the CFATS personnel surety program (PSP). While agreeing with much of what I said he made the following very important observation:

However, what the public, especially industry DOES have a right to is a specific, clear SOP that the govt will follow in the event of a positive match.  There is no reason on earth why ISCD cannot provide the SOP as part of the public information package on this.  Knowing how a positive match will be handled will go a long way toward assuaging the concerns of an increasingly skeptical workforce (and public). 

I am not sure what kind of detail such an SOP would entail since much of it would depend on the response of the TSA and the FBI to each particular instance of a positive Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) match,  but I agree that the publication of such a document would at least provide a better understanding of how the Department would address their response to such a match. That would allow for a more intelligent conversation on the topic if nothing else.

This brings up another of the frequently heard complaints about the PSP process to date. The use of the information collection request (ICR) process to introduce the program of necessity leaves a number of questions unanswered. To be fair the 60-day notice is one of the most comprehensive ICR notices that I have seen, but it is not a rulemaking notice. It certainly provides most of the information one would expect in an notice of proposed rulemaking, but it does not address all of the legal technicalities of the rule making process. I am sure that the Department’s legal staff has vetted this process, but an NPRM (which would include the ICR notice) would have made the industry feel better about the process.

I think that the folks at ISCD could make things go a lot smoother upon the publication of their 30-day ICR notice (which I expect – hopefully – in the next couple of months) if they put up a CFATS-PSP web site that showed the proposed PSP tool for CSAT, a positive match response plan, and a more detailed discussion of how TWICs would be expected to be used for both facility personnel and ‘visitors’ like truck drivers and train crews.

The more information that ISCD can provide in advance of the 30-day ICR notice the fewer and less vociferous will be complaints sent to the OMB about the ICR. Everyone has to remember that the typical OMB response to ICR complaints is foot dragging in the approval process. That would not benefit anyone, ISCD or industry, in this case. We need a way, sooner rather than later, for facilities to ensure that their workforce and visitors do not include known or suspected terrorists. 

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