Tuesday, April 18, 2017

ISCD Updates Two FAQ Responses and Adds a New Article

Today the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) updated two frequently asked question (FAQ) responses and added a new article on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Knowledge Center. There is no specific notice on that site concerning the presence of the new article.

FAQ Updates

The two changed FAQ responses were significant rewrites of the verbiage but no real new information was provided. The updated FAQ responses were for the following existing FAQ:

The new response to FAQ #1489 is significantly shorter than the previous response. ISCD has removed verbiage about the need for facility knowledge on the part of the Preparer and the unrelated information that the Submitter should be an officer or employee of the company who is domiciled in the US. That was perfectly good information, but it was not really pertinent to the FAQ.

For FAQ #1579 there was actually a significant change to the wording of the FAQ as well as nearly complete rewrite of the response. The original FAQ started off with “How does a college define itself….” The new FAQ substitutes ‘facility’ for ‘college’; expanding the coverage of the response to include a more diverse set of facilities. That expansion did not have any real effect on the new response.

The new response would seem to imply that ISCD is taking a different sort of look at facilities that choose to only include isolated parts of their overall facility in their definition of the facility for the purpose of Top Screen submissions. The original FAQ response included this:

“As such, an institution of higher learning can, if appropriate, submit a Top-Screen on a facility-by-facility basis or on a campus-wide basis. However, the Department will evaluate whether or not the facility or facilities, if determined to be high-risk, have complied with CFATS and, specifically, the Risk-Based Performance Standards (RBPS).”

The new response substitutes the following language:

Individual buildings within a facility site can be registered as separate facilities if they possess COI at or above the screening threshold quantity (STQ). For example, a college or university can, if appropriate, submit a Top-Screen on a building-by-building basis or on a campus-wide basis and need not necessarily count the total of all COI in separate buildings to ascertain whether it meets or exceeds the applicable STQ for each COI. However, the Department will evaluate whether or not the definition of the parameters of the facility or facilities to determine whether such definition appears intended to thwart or evade regulation under CFATS.

It is clear to see that the original response had more of a focus on how the identification of multiple facilities impacted the site security plan for the sites. The new response would seem to indicate that ISCD has new concerns about people attempting to evade coverage under the CFATS program by filing multiple sites that might not be considered at high risk of terrorist attack when the combination of the facilities might be considered to be at high risk.

Both the original response and the new response provide a link to the final rule on Appendix A to the CFATS regulations (6 CFR Part 27) and a description of the area within that final rule where the discussion takes place that affect the response to this FAQ. If ISCD had used a link to the Federal Register web site instead of their own listing of the publication, they would have been able to provide a more direct link to the discussion (here).

New Article

The new article (Article #1780) provides a fairly detailed discussion of the categories of facilities that are exempt from the requirement to submit a Top Screen and are thus exempt from coverage under the CFATS program. The information provided in this article has, for the most part, been provided in individual FAQ responses to questions about the specific programs that form the basis for the exemption from CFATS program coverage. This is the first time, however, that it has been included in a single place on the CFATS Knowledge Center.

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