Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Screen Roll Out Information

I have been hearing comments from a couple of readers about the new Top Screen being developed by the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD). There appears to be some confusion about the roll out of the new Top Screen. I have not seen any official documents from ISCD about the roll out timing, but some recent submissions (April) to the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), plus some private conversations that I have had may help clarify some of the issues being discussed.

The New Top Screen

Back in February ISCD announced that they would be changing the Top Screen and Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) tools in the on-line Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT). DHS subsequently made it known that the changes in the two tools were being done to reflect the new risk analysis and tiering methodology that ISCD has been working on for a couple of years now. ISCD intends to implement the new risk analysis methodology sometime this fall and that implementation will include the new Top Screen and SVA.

I reported on the webinar where ISCD demonstrated the new Top Screen. The version that was demonstrated was more streamlined and it did include some questions that are currently in the SVA tool. The earlier presentation of these questions is necessitated by the new risk analysis model.

I understand that ISCD plans to demonstrate both the new Top Screen and SVA tools at the Chemical Sector Security Summit next month. I am hoping that they will be included in the presentations that will be web cast. We should be seeing a final listing of the web cast presentations in the next couple of weeks. DHS will be sending that out to people who have registered for the web cast.


DHS does have a rulemaking in progress for changes in the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program and according to the latest Unified Agenda a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is scheduled to be published in September. The change in risk analysis protocol and subsequent changes in the Top Screen and SVA tools will not require rulemaking to effect since there will be no changes to the regulations required.

Because the Top Screen and SVA are information collections, ISCD is required to update their information collection request (ICR) with the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). A revised ICR for the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) was submitted to OIRA on April 29th, 2016. OIRA’s published acceptance of the ICR will be required before ISCD can implement the changes to the Top Screen or SVA. There is no way to know when OIRA will approve the ICR.


Based upon past actions by the ISCD, once OIRA publishes their approval of the changes to the ICR we can expect to see a notice published in the Federal Register outlining how DHS will implement the new Top Screen and SVA. This notice will not require any formal OMB approval since they will have already approved that implementation plan as part of the ICR.

There is a rumor going around that DSH is going to require all currently regulated facilities to submit a new Top Screen. Additionally, the rumor goes, all facilities that have (or have had in the last 60 days) an inventory of any of the 300+ DHS chemicals of interest (COI) at or above the screening threshold quantity (STQ) for the COI, regardless of whether or not they have already been notified by ISCD that they are not considered to be a high risk facility.

Section 27.200(a) of 6 CFR provides the DHS Secretary the authority to, “at any time, request information from chemical facilities that may reflect potential consequences of or vulnerabilities to a terrorist attack or incident, including questions specifically related to the nature of the business and activities conducted at the facility”. Thus, the authority does exist for the wholesale ‘re-do’ of the Top Screen as outlined in the rumors that I have been hearing.

On the other hand, on page 15 of the ICR support document [.DOC download] submitted to OIRA, DHS is expecting only 1,000 facilities to submit Top Screens each year and on average half of those facilities will submit 2 Top Screens in a year, reflecting changes in their COI inventory. This hardly sounds like a wholesale requirement to re-do Top Screens.

I would expect ICSD to have a pretty good idea as to whether the changes in the risk tiering methodology will result in any changes in the Tiering level of existing facilities. I would not be surprised if ISCD were to notify such facilities to submit a new Top Screen. The notification of facilities that had previously been notified that they were not at high-risk of terrorist attack would be more problematic because of the numbers involved (about 45,000 facilities), but it would be possible on a case-by-case basis.

It must be remembered that existing CFATS facilities are already on a regulatory schedule {§27.210(b)} to re-submit Top Screens (in addition to the requirement to submit a new Top Screen when there is a material change in COI or processes involving those COI). So all CFATS facilities will have to submit the new Top Screen at some point in their future.

In Short

In short, ISCD is planning on rolling out their Congressionally mandated, revised and vetted risk assessment methodology later this year, probably in the Fall. This methodology will be used to determine which facilities are at high-risk of terrorist attack and thus covered by the CFATS program. It is also used to establish the Tier level (relative degree of high risk) that determines the relative level of coverage of the security measures included in the Site Security Plan based upon the Risk Based Performance Standards guidance.

The revised methodology can be expected to require changes in the information submitted in Top Screen and Security Vulnerability Assessment tools in the CSAT process. The new information could result in changes in the CFATS status of a chemical facility or the Tier rankings of covered facilities. All CFATS facilities will eventually have to submit data about their facility under the new Top Screen. All chemical facilities that have new COI added to their chemical inventories at or above the SQT or have an increase in inventories already reported to ISCD will also have to complete the new Top Screen.

More information is expected to be released at the Chemical Sector Security Summit next month.

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