Monday, May 9, 2011

HR 1690 Introduced, Security Credentials

Last week Rep. Rogers (R, AL) introduced HR 1690, the Modernizing of Documentation and Elimination of Redundant Identification and (MODERN) Security Credentials Act. The bill would require the DHS Secretary to “consolidate and harmonize the Department of Homeland Security’s security threat assessment process for transportation workers” {§2(a)} and to reduce redundant background checks.

To allow the same background checks to be used for multiple security credentials the bill modifies the lists of permanently disqualifying {§4(a)} offenses and interim disqualifying offenses {§4(b)} that prohibit DHS from approving the issuance of the security credentials found in 46 USC §70105. Then bill would make these applicable to airport security credentials {§3(4)(B)} and State Hazardous Materials Endorsements for CDL’s {§2101(b)}.

The bill would not limit the authority of airport operators to deny security credentials to potential employees or the States to deny HAZMAT Endorsements to applicants based upon their internal security rules; the bill would prohibit States from requiring additional background checks though.

No specific mention is made of the CFATS program, but the way the bill is written it would certainly allow the Secretary the authority to write personnel surety regulations for high-risk chemical facilities that would give background check credit to holders of the various identification credentials based upon the 46 USC §70105 background checks.

An initial hearing on this bill was held before the Transportation Security Subcommittee (chaired by Rep. Rogers) of the House Homeland Security Committee on May 4th. None of the witnesses heard expressed any major concerns with the legislation. Airport operators were satisfied with its protection of their authority to issue/deny access credentials. Trucking company owners were satisfied with the consolidation of the background check requirements for HAZMAT Endorsements and TWICs. The labor representative was mainly satisfied with the redress process included for the DHS background checks.

It would be interesting to hear from ISCD how this legislation might affect their on-going attempts to craft personnel surety rules for the CFATS process. The CFATS program is probably not large enough to rate a seat at the witness table when the full Homeland Security Committee holds their hearing on this bill. Hopefully they will at least request written testimony from ISCD on the matter.

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