As I noted last month Sen. Landrieu (D,LA) introduced S 2534, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015; the Senate version of the annual DHS spending bill. Typically the language in this bill would be substituted for the language in the House bill (HR 4903) when it is considered in the Senate.
As is typical in the DHS spending bill the only specific language of interest to the chemical security community would be the inclusion of the extension of the CFATS authorization. This bill includes that in §532. That language would extend the current authorization one year to October 4, 2015.
The Committee Report that accompanies this bill does provide a few items of potential specific interest to readers of this blog. This would include comments about the TWIC program, facility security officer training, the CFATS program and the Chemical Defense program.
On page 79 of the report there is a brief discussion of the criminal background check portion of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The Committee questions the lack of recurring criminal background checks after a TWIC is issued. The report requires DHS and the FBI to develop a plan to correct the situation, but stop short of requiring them to implement the plan. They do require the production of cost estimates for implementing the recurring criminal background checks, so they do realize that additional checks may raise the costs of the program significantly.
CG FSO Training
On page 86 there is a discussion about the lack of training standards for waterfront facility security officers (FSO) under the Maritime Transportation Safety Act (MTSA) and §821 of the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act. There is apparently a misprint in the discussion calling the FSO’s “waterfront federal [emphasis added] security officers” instead of ‘facility’ security officers.
The comment notes that the CG is internally developing the requirements for this training, but it recommends that FEMA be brought into the development process since the §821 requirements that the training should be “consistent with, and supports implementation of, the National Incident Management System”. A plan for the implementation of §821 is required to be submitted to Congress within 60 days of the passage of this bill.
There is a fairly lengthy discussion (pages 102 thru 104) of the CFATS program. In addition to the obligatory requirement for multiple reports about the programs implementation there is:
• A brief discussion about the coordination between Administration agencies on chemical safety and security under EO 13650;
• A one sentence requirement to “work with industry on a viable solution to personnel surety”;
• A cryptic (and misaddressed) requirement to consider the use of “chemical neutralization technologies when creating comprehensive and integrated standard operating procedures for a unified Federal approach for identifying and responding to risks in chemical facilities” (this should be addressed at OSHA and EPA not NPPD); and
• A complaint about the abuse of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime by chemical security inspectors.
Chemical Defense Program
On page 110 there is a very brief discussion about the Office of Health Affair’s chemical defense program; a program that I discussed last fall. Beyond recommending a continuation of current (and requested) funding levels (a comparatively miniscule $824,000) there is a requirement to submit a report on the progress being made in the four demonstration projects.
This bill will move forward to the Senate floor, be amended and adopted. Then when the House bill reaches the Senate the language for this bill will be substituted for the House language (the Constitution requires that spending bills originate in the House). Then a Conference Committee will be formed to iron out the differences. September will probably be the earliest that a conference committee report will be voted upon.