Tuesday, November 15, 2011


A long time reader and MTSA commentator (Maritime Transportation Security News & Views) John C.W. Bennett pointed me at an article over at HazardousCargo.com about some CFATS facilities asking truck drivers to have a Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) to gain access to the facility to satisfy requirements that visitors have been vetted against the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). The article points out that the American Trucking Association (ATA) is recommending that the Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) also be used for this purpose.

This is going to be a continuing problem for truckers and CFATS facilities that might be partially resolved when the final guidance on the personnel surety program is eventually published. Given the controversies surrounding that program (some dealing specifically with this issue) and ISCD’s attempt to ‘work with’ the regulated community, I wouldn’t hold my breath while waiting for final clearance on this topic. With that said, let’s look at some of the issues involved.

Unescorted Access

First and foremost, the personnel surety requirements in the CFATS regulations only require visitors granted unescorted access to critical and or restricted areas of the facility to have undergone the appropriate background checks. The facility has a relatively large leeway in determining exactly what portions of the facility this encompasses. NOTE: All facility employees must undergo the background checks, but visitors are only required to do so by the regulations if they have unescorted access.

It should be relatively easy for many facilities to define or control loading docks in such a manner as to keep the driver accessible areas outside of the ‘controlled’ area. This will be more difficult if the facility ships or receives theft/diversion chemicals of interest (COI), but it should still be possible. (NOTE: This seriously points out the problem with shipping security, if the COI are not hazardous materials; there are no TSDB background checks required for the driver who hauls this stuff across county.)

Keeping bulk load drivers away from critical/restricted areas may be more difficult, but even this could be addressed by having delivery drivers drop their tank wagons. The facility would then use their personnel to move the tank wagon to the restricted unloading areas.

Of course, the facility security management team may just decide that it is just as easy to make the fence-line the restricted area and require all people, escorted or otherwise to have undergone the requisite background checks.


Both the TWIC and the HME require identical background checks against the TSDB. From there the two different programs are significantly different. Most of these differences mean nothing to CFATS facility compliance requirements. The major difference of significance is that the TWIC is a biometric based identification. If and when the TWIC readers become officially available a facility will be able to verify both the authenticity and currency of the TWIC card and the identity of the person who possess the card. This would give high-risk facility security managers much better confidence in allowing a strange person unaccompanied access to their facility.

The near similarity of these two vetting programs is one of the reasons that there is an on-going move (‘move’ is a relative term) in Congress to ‘harmonize’ these programs with only the TWIC remaining (See HR 1690 blog post) after all is said and done. There is a long way to go for that harmonization to reach reality, if it ever does.

The biggest current problem is that there is no guarantee that any given truck driver will have either identification in their possession. Currently if a truck driver does not plan to pick-up or deliver at an MTSA covered facility or carry hazardous chemical loads, there is no requirement to go through the expense or bother of either process. And, make no mistake; either program is a pain to go through.

Security Management Problem

A CFATS facility manager is faced with a problem if the facility is unable to keep the various truck drivers out of the restricted area. The facility has either got to provide a security escort for each truck driver or make provisions for ensuring that the truck drivers are properly vetted. Since ‘escorting’ trucks is difficult at best, most security managers will find it easiest to resort to requiring all truck drivers are properly vetted.

This breaks down to two general cases; outbound trucks and inbound trucks. Usually a facility has a tad bit more control over the identity or vetting of outbound drivers. If a company has their own drivers or contracts with a specific trucking company for shipping their products, requiring all drivers to be vetted via the CFATS process should be fairly simple and no special government identification requirements will be necessary.

For inbound shipments where the vendor has a similar type of driver arrangement the situation should typically be about as easy. The receiving company lets the shipper know that all drivers coming to the site have to be vetted through the TSDB with the suggestion that they should have either a TWIC or HME.

For inbound shipments where the transporter is a completely independent third party(ies) is where things start to get dicey. A TSDB vetting requirement may be laid upon the vendor with the expectation that it will be transmitted in-turn to the driver that brings the load to the front gate. Unfortunately, anyone with significant real-world experience knows that inevitably the critical shipment that the facility absolutely has to have will show-up with an un-vetted driver. Such are the challenges of a security manager.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */