Monday, January 4, 2016

ISCD Publishes January 2016 CFATS Update

This afternoon the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) published the January 2016 CFATS Update. The latest update shows that the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program continues to progress with authorizing and approving site security plans. ISCD also continues to conduct an increasing number of compliance inspections. The number of covered facilities continues to decrease.

December 2015
Covered Facilities
Authorized SSPs
Approved SSPs
Compliance Inspections

ISCD continues to report more Authorized SSPs than there are covered facilities. This statistical anomaly means that we have no way of knowing how many facilities currently have Authorized SSPs. It also calls into question how far along the government actually is in approving Site Security Plans (SSP). While the numbers would seem to indicate that there are only 734 SSPs to approve we have no way of knowing if the double counting of Authorized SSPs has been extended to approvals as well.

Even though the GAO complained last year that ISCD was not accurately reporting the number of facilities that had not passed their Compliance Inspection, DHS continues to only report the number of facilities inspected without delineating how many have passed those inspections. With the past problems in mind, this certainly calls into question the efficacy of the inspection process.

It continues to be disheartening to see the decrease in the number of facilities covered by the CFATS program because we have no way of knowing if the decrease is due to programs effectiveness at convincing facilities to stop using the DHS chemicals of interest (COI) that form the basis for being in the program or if the program is pushing companies out of the chemical business due to the cost of security. DHS continues to fail to provide even the most basic information about why the number of covered facilities continues to decrease at a rate faster than new SSPs are authorized.

Having complained about the lack of relevant details being reported (on an ongoing basis) I must take this opportunity to call attention to the fact that the hard-working men and women of ISCD continue to do the day-to-day work of implementing the CFATS program. Visits to facilities to help organizations get their site security plans authorized and approved continued unabated as did compliance inspections during the holiday season. With the unseasonable severe weather last month through much of the country, the dedication and perseverance of the Chemical Security Inspectors is to be applauded.

There will be a number of changes in the CFATS program in the coming year. We will see the personnel surety program completely rolled out and implemented in Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities. We are likely to see a notice of proposed rulemaking for an update of the CFATS program that may include a change to the risk analysis process that ISCD uses to Tier facilities. Hopefully, the year will also see final action on the ‘temporary’ exemption from Top Screen submissions for agricultural producers. And there is always the possibility that ISCD will finally figure out a cost effective way to implement the Congressionally mandated ammonium nitrate security program.

It is going to be an interesting year. And remember, all we need is one security incident at CFATS covered facility (and given the way the world is heading, that incident is likely to be cyber related) to get increased Congressional attention on the program.

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