Wednesday, April 3, 2013

DHS OIG Publishes Report on CFATS Investigation

Yesterday the DHS Office of the Inspector General published the report on their investigation of the management of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. The investigation covered many of the program and personnel problems that have been discussed in this blog over the last three years (in fact there is a brief mention of one of those blog posts).

The OIG made 24 recommendations for improvements to the implementation of the CFATS program and the NPPD response agreed with 19 of those suggestions. All but one of the recommendations has been considered ‘resolved but open’ with the OIG awaiting further information on the Departments implementation of the corrective action.

ISCD Response

David Wulf, Director of ISCD, sent an email to each CFATS facility (which NPPD was kind enough to provide me a copy of) telling them about the OIG report and briefly explaining that actions were already underway to correct the noted deficiencies. He noted that:

“While there remains work to be done, we have made significant and tangible progress, and OIG acknowledges that nearly all of the recommendations contained in its report have been resolved.  We are working to address the one remaining, unresolved recommendation and will provide the OIG supporting documentation so it can close out the recommendations that have already been resolved.”

Problem Areas

The report looks at a wide range of problem areas with the implementation of the CFATS program. They include:

• CFATS Program Tools Need Modification to Improve Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Utility;
• SSP Review Process Has Hindered CFATS Program Progress;
• Management of the Personnel Surety Program Resulted in Premature Expenditure of Funds;
• Congress Provided ISCD Additional Chemical Security Regulatory Responsibility;
• Confusing Terminology and Absence of Appropriate Metrics Led to Misunderstandings of CFATS Program Progress;
• IP, NPPD, Congress, and DHS OIG Provided Limited Oversight of ISCD and the CFATS Program;
• Overall Coordination, Communication, and Actions Taken to Address Facility Tiering Methodology Errors Were Ineffective, and Concerns Remain That Tiering Is Still Flawed;
• Pressure to Implement the CFATS Program Led ISCD To Rely on Contractor Support;
• ISCD Struggles to Provide Employees With Appropriate Training;
• Inability to Follow Sound Government Practices Has Resulted in Noncompliance and Wasted Resources;
• Dysfunctional Culture Contributed to Perceptions of Retaliation and Suppression of Nonconforming Opinions within ISCD;
• NPPD Has a Process to Report Allegations, but DHS OIG Contact Information Is Outdated; and
• Industry Supports the CFATS Program, but Challenges Remain and Corrective Action Is Necessary

With the exception of one recommendation the OIG reports that the Department is making progress on correcting the noted deficiencies even where NPPD disagreed with the OIG findings. The one remaining area of significant contention between ISCD and the OIG is reflected in finding #19:

“Eliminate the authorization and payment of Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime for all ISCD personnel.”

Personnel Issues

It is heartening to see that the report addresses almost all of the personnel issues that I have covered here in this blog. Particularly important is the discussion of the locality pay issue (page 69 thru 73, Adobe) since many in the press and Congress have tried to portray this issue as an attempt by Chemical Security Inspectors to defraud the Government. The OIG’s report clearly identifies this as a management issue where some CSI were left holding the financial bag. Unfortunately, the OIG did not make any recommendations with regard to the 22 CSI that were expected to pay back a total of $143,760.40.

Moving Forward

DHS and ISCD have a lot of work ahead of them to correct the problems identified in this report. Some of the more interesting actions pending include:

• Improvements to the CSAT applications, including Top Screen, Security Vulnerability Assessment, and Site Security Plan;
• Development of procedures to address Top Screen resubmissions and Redetermination Requests;
• Implementing Ammonium Nitrate Security Program; and
• Implementing cybersecurity training for inspectors;

It will be interesting to see how quickly ISCD is able to move on completing actions recommended in the OIG report.

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