AFPM’s Security Conference is going to have an exciting agenda this year. From April 13 – 15, AFPM members will have the opportunity to gain vital information on a myriad of security issues, policies and future regulations. This year, conference attendees will hear from David Wulf, Department of Homeland Security’s Director of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division. Mr. Wulf manages the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program and he will provide a regulatory and implementation update of the CFATS program. In anticipation of Mr. Wulf’s presentation at the conference, AFPM sat down with him for a Q&A session on the progress DHS on CFATS implementation. Part one of the Q&A is available here.
In addition to the CFATS Act, what other changes do you see on the horizon for the CFATS program?
In the past seven years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and our industry stakeholders have learned a lot about ways in which the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Program might be improved. In 2014, the Department initiated rulemaking in an effort to further mature the CFATS Program and create the next generation of CFATS regulation. In August 2014, we issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting comments from our stakeholders across industry, government, non-profits, and unions. We received approximately 60 official responses through the Federal Register and were joined by more than 250 individuals at listening sessions and webinars held across the country.
In 2015, we hope to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which will continue to allow for public comment on CFATS. I encourage AFPM members to look at all facets of the program and provide feedback on how to make CFATS better. Your input through listening sessions and written responses is indispensable as we continue to strengthen our program. As a tri-chair of the Executive Order 13650, DHS is also continuing to develop programs and tools to heighten both private and public awareness and involvement in chemical facility safety and security. In November, the tri-chairs hosted a webinar to provide updates on the recommendations sent to President Obama in June 2014. Our field personnel, along with other federal and state officials, have established EO Regional Working Groups to focus and develop efforts that work for our partners and stakeholders and provide an environment of shared responsibility of chemical safety and security. On a federal level, multiple agencies are continuing to share information to develop better warning systems and training, and working to ensure that critical information gets to first responders.
The CFATS Act of 2014 adds more flexibility to the Personnel Surety Program. Can you describe the options sites have now—specifically regarding other Federal credentials such as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC)?
I think we can all agree that vetting those who have access to chemicals of interest and other sensitive parts of high-risk chemical facilities is a key aspect of facility security. For facilities to comply with the regulation, they must implement measures to verify and validate identity, check criminal history, verify and validate legal authorization to work in the United States, and identify people with terrorist ties. Facilities are already conducting identity, criminal history, and legal authorization to work checks as part of their security plans, and under the CFATS Act
of 2014 those three types of checks will continue under Risk Based Performance Standard (RBPS) 12.
The Terrorist Screening Database, the tool the US government uses to vet individuals for terrorist ties, includes classified information and is not commercially available. Paperwork Reduction Act materials for the Personnel Surety Program, which are still going through the review process, have described three general options that will be available to facilities to meet the terrorist ties screening requirement of RBPS 12:
1) Facilities will be able to submit individuals’ information directly to DHS for vetting against the Terrorist Screening Database;
2) Facilities will be able to submit information to DHS identifying individuals who hold TWICs or certain other government credentials, which DHS will use to verify that those individuals are being screened for terrorist ties as part of the relevant government programs; or
3) Facilities will be able to use electronic readers, like TWIC readers, to verify the validity of existing credentials.
The CFATS Act of 2014 provides facilities a fourth option for complying with this aspect of RBPS 12: facilities may choose to conduct visual inspection of existing credentials or program documents for which periodic vetting against the Terrorist Screening Database occurs. Congress noted that facilities choosing to meet the performance standard via a visual inspection of credentials should take into consideration the threat posed by this practice and consider other means of verification of a credential’s validity.
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to come back and discuss the details of the Personnel Surety Program further with you once it is finalized and implemented! We will be sure to be in touch with AFPM and the rest of our stakeholders as soon as there is news about implementation of the program.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to spread the word on progress being made on the CFATS program. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out our website at www.dhs.gov/critical-infrastructure-chemical-security or e-mail us at CFATS@hq.dhs.gov.