Monday, May 30, 2011

HR 1900 Introduced – TSA Surface Transportation Security

Back in the middle of May Rep. Jackson-Lee (D, TX) introduced HR 1900, the Surface Transportation and Mass Transit Security Act of 2011, but the GPO copy of the bill only became publicly available last week. Essentially this bill would authorize the Surface Transportation Security Program within TSA. While a major focus of this program would be public transportation it would also address freight transportation of interest to the chemical security community.
Surface Security Inspectors

Section 3 of this bill would establish the Surface Transportation Security Inspection Office. The Office would be responsible for enforcing surface transportation security regulations and directives as well as assisting the various elements of the surface transportation industry “enhance their security against terrorist attacks and other security threats” {§3(a)(2)(A)}.

The Office would be headed by a Director and Deputy Director. They would supervise an inspection force deployed in a series of Primary and Secondary Field offices. Each Primary Field Office would be headed by a Chief Surface Transportation Security Inspector who would report directly to the Director. The Primary Field Offices would be staffed with at least 7 Surface Transportation Security Inspectors including the Chief Inspector.

Secondary Field Offices would be subordinate to a Primary Field Office and would be headed by a Senior Surface Transportation Security Inspector. The Secondary Field Office will be staffed by at least 5 Surface Transportation Security Inspectors including the Senior Inspector.

The bill does not establish a specific number of field offices, but it does call for a 100 person increase in the number of Surface Transportation Security Inspectors over the number in TSA at the end of 2010.

Surface Transportation Advisory Committee

Section 5 of the proposed bill would establish a Surface Transportation Advisory Committee to advise the Assistant Secretary (TSA) on ways to improve the surface transportation security program. The Committee will consist of unpaid members representing up to 27 organizations representing “public transportation agencies, passenger rail agencies or operators, railroad carriers, motor carriers, owners or operators of highways, over-the-road bus operators and terminal owners and operators, pipeline operators, privacy organizations, labor organizations representing employees of such entities, and the surface transportation security technology industry” {§1311(b)(1)}.

Within this Committee the bill would require the establishment of two working groups. The Passenger Carrier Security Working Group would “provide recommendations for successful implementation of initiatives relating to passenger rail, over-the-road bus, and public transportation security proposed by the Transportation Security Administration” {§1311(d)(1)}. The Freight Rail Security Working Group would address the same issues for the freight rail sector.

It is interesting that the passenger group would address all passenger transport modes but the freight group would only address the freight rail mode, not the trucking mode.

Security Training

Section 7 of the bill would address security training for surface transportation modes. First it would require that the TSA would report to Congress on their schedule for implementing the mandate to develop security training regulations for bus and passenger train transportation and freight rail transportation.

It would also require TSA to establish a program for approving third-party training programs that could be used by covered entities to fulfill the training requirements outlined in the new regulations.

First Observer Program

Section 12 of the bill would require the Assistant Secretary to formalize the current First Observer Program, establishing it as a program to encourage reporting by all members of the private sector transportation industry, evaluating the reports and forwarding the reports to appropriate law enforcement personnel. The bill would authorize an annual appropriation of $5 Million for this program which would be essentially a transportation fusion center.

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