Saturday, March 3, 2018

CFATS PSP ICR Revision Comments – 03-03-18

Back in December the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) published a 60-day information collection request revision notice for proposed changes to the personnel surety program (PSP) for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. Comments on the proposed extension of the anti-terrorist screening requirement to Tier III and Tier IV facilities were solicited. This is the second look at comments received on this ICR. The earlier comment review can be seen at:

The comments posted this last week (and the comment period officially ended on February 26th) came from four organizations representing groups of chemical manufacturers (links are for .PDF downloads):

As was noted with last week’s comments, these industry groups are generally supportive of the PSP process. There are, however, two retread arguments in this weeks comments that have been seen in responses to all of the earlier versions of this ICR; already screened individuals and notification about TSDB positives. Both of these issues were specifically dealt with when the current ICR was approved.

We continue to see calls a review of the implementation of the TSDB screening at Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities. ISCD has almost certainly conducted an internal review as a basis for many of the changes in burden estimates included in this ICR notice. What these organizations are calling for is a more formal, published review; with some calling for an outside review. I think that a published review would be beneficial, particularly if it included anonymized data on the number of TSDB positives.

Since Congress will be (hopefully) working on the reauthorization of the CFATS program this year, such a formal review of the TSDB screening would be helpful in determining whether or not Tier III and Tier IV facilities should be impacted by this requirement. Currently, this TSDB screening is required for all covered facilities by regulation {6 CFR 27.230(a)(12)(iv)} and authorized by statute {6 USC 622(d)(2)} so I suspect that Tier III and IV facilities will be subject to the TSDB screening unless specifically excepted by Congress.

The ICR approval process for can be lengthy, particularly for controversial (read potentially expensive) programs such as this. This is due to the requirement for an essentially political review in the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). It is highly unlikely that we will see the required 30-day ICR notice (much less an approved ICR) before December 18th when the current CFATS authorization runs out. So Congress will have a chance to weigh in on the topic.

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