Tuesday, October 12, 2010

S 3866 Introduced 9-29-10

As Congress prepared to depart Washington to start their lengthy campaign recess a large number of bills were introduced in both houses. Slowly but surely copies of these bills are making there way to the Government Printing Office (GPO) so we can see what these bills actually contain. There are five bills (including this one) that I think may be of interest to the chemical security community. As they are published I will report on them.

On September 29th Senators Carper (D, DE) and Brown (R, MA) introduced S 3866, the Aviation Security Innovation & Reform Act of 2010. It aims to standardize training for the Transportation Security Officers (TSO) working for TSA and to establish an Office of Behavior Analysis in the Transportation Security Administration. Neither of these objectives appears to have any direct impact on issues of concern to the chemical security community (except in our role as travelers).

The only reason that I am addressing this here is that this legislation would tend to perpetuate the failure to distinguish between the responsibilities of TSOs working as screeners at airports and those working on Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams and those working enforcement of freight railroad security measures.

For example §2 of the bill would update 49 USC 44935(g)(1) to require the DHS Assistant Secretary in charge of TSA to develop and implement a training program that “to the maximum extent practicable, ensures that the training received by Transportation Security Officers [emphasis added] is standardized”. It then goes on to specify position specific tasks that would require special training including: “up-to-date technical training in document fraud identification” {§44935(g)(2)(d)} and equipment-specific training {§44935(g)(3)}. No mention is made of surface security tasks.

Congress and TSA must acknowledge the inherent difference between the jobs of airport screening, VIPR teams, freight security (both truck and rail), and pipeline security inspectors as well as the relative importance of the much smaller surface security workforce. Until they do so surface transportation security will continue to be short changed. I hope that it won’t take an attack on a chlorine railcar or a gasoline tank wagon to get Congress and DHS to recognize that surface transportation security is just as important as securing air transportation.

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