Thursday, July 10, 2014

OMB Approves TSA Highway Base Program ICR

On Tuesday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) announced that it had approved the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) request for approval of an information collection request (ICR) to support the agency’s new Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) program that replaces their old Corporate Security Review Program. This BASE ICR supports the portion of the program looking at the over-the-highway transportation sector.

There was apparently some sort of administrative finagling going on with this ICR. The original 60-day Notice was published in May of 2012 and the 30-day Notice was published in November of the same year. According to OIRA, the ICR was not actually submitted to them until March of 2013. Something was wrong with that submission so TSA withdrew the ICR application on Monday and resubmitted the same day with all of the same supporting information. It was approved the same day. I can’t find any difference between the two submissions.

The other odd thing about this ICR is that while it covers all over-the-highway modes of transportation, it specifically does not cover Hazmat shippers or transporters. In their supporting statement [Word® download link] TSA notes (pg 4):

“While TSA is the lead federal agency for all modes of transportation, at this time TSA has decided to not conduct the Highway BASE of hazardous material carriers and shippers in order to avoid duplication with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) assessments for compliance with requirements of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA).”

This is one of the problems that TSA has continued to have with surface security issues; since they were removed from the Transportation Department when DHS was stood up there have been numerous conflicts between DOT agencies and TSA over jurisdictional issues. This is reflected in the comment that was appended to by blog post on the 30-day ICR notice.

While the PHMSA hazmat transportation security regulations (49 CFR 172.800 et seq) are generic with no truly enforceable standards, they have at least been given the authority to require security plans. Congress has not given TSA any real authority to regulate hazmat transportation beyond the limited authority to address a limited number of hazmat materials transported by rail (49 CFR 1580).

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