Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CFATS Knowledge Center Update 06-14-11

Today the folks at DHS ISCD updated their CFATS Knowledge Center web page to reflect the publication of three notices in the Federal Register about the proposed CFATS personal surety program. The updated information includes a brief news item, a revised FAQ response and a new article on the program.

Latest News

The Latest News section of the page provides a one paragraph summary of the three documents published in today’s Federal Register. The description if full of jargon and if you don’t follow the ins and outs of the regulatory processes involved, it could be a little confusing. It does, however, identify the event and notes that the Documentation Section at the bottom left of the page contains links to all three documents.

FAQ Update

Both the question and response to Frequently Asked Question 1368 has been updated as was explained in the ICR Response Notice.

The question originally asked: “Are background checks required for fire department personnel (firefighters and fire protection engineers)? If so, would the background check used for initial employment be acceptable?”

The old response was: “6 CFR Part 27 does not require that fire department personnel undergo background checks.”

The revised question now reads: “Are CFATS background checks required for emergency responders prior to access to restricted areas or critical assets during emergency situations?”

The new response now reads: “No. During emergency situations, 6 CFR 27.230(a)(12) does not require CFATS background checks on emergency responders at the state or local level that gain unescorted access to restricted areas or critical assets.”
Again, as I noted in my blog earlier today, this response continues to keep emergency responders (typically considered to be fire and EMS personnel) in a separate category from law enforcement personnel who are exempted from the personal surety requirements when they gain access to restricted areas or critical assets ‘in performance of their duties’.

I sincerely believe that this is a bureaucratic oversight and that there was no intention to require fire fighters and EMS personnel to have to undergo background checks to take part in drills and training at high-risk chemical facilities.

Personal Surety Article

Article # 1721 has been added to the list of articles maintained on the CFATS Knowledge Center. As with most of the other articles, this one provides a fairly high level summary of how the new personal surety program will work. Anyone working CFATS issues should read the article in its entirety. It provides a much more understandable description of the program than did the notices published in today’s Federal Register.

The article provides one very valuable piece of information that was not included in the earlier notices. It notes in the last section of the article that: “DHS anticipates launching the Personnel Surety Program in the fall of 2011.” Given the way the previous CSAT tools were launched, we might expect to see an early version of the program to be run-out with a few Tier 1 facilities this summer to work out the bugs. Those early implementations would have ISCD personnel working side-by-side with the facility personnel submitting the information.

ISCD would then fine tune the program and publish two manuals for use of the tool that would provide detailed instructions for facility personnel to use the system.

NOTE: Links on the CFATS Knowledge Center for articles and FAQ are no longer ‘permanent’ links. This is the reason that I have not provided links within this posting; they would not work when a reader clicked on them. To find the links to the article and FAQ listed in this post go to the CFATS Knowledge Center Page and click on the ‘Personal Surety’ button on the bottom of the page. It will then list the two links.

OUT-OF-DATE INFORMATION: I have been avoiding mentioning this, but I can no longer help but point out that the 4-13-11 news item on the Chemical Sector Security Summit listed on the CFATS Knowledge Center page is woefully out of date. It should have been changed on May 20th when registration was closed. I suspect that the change was not made due to a lack of communications between the Chemical Sector-Specific Agency in OIP and the folks at ISCD.

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