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A Year of Progress for the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS)

Posted: 01/17/13 at 12:48 PM

David Wulf, Director of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division, U.S. Department of Homeland Security -

When SOCMA recently offered me the opportunity to write a blog post that would reach hundreds of CFATS stakeholders, I jumped at the opportunity. At the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD), the Division within DHS that is responsible for implementing the CFATS program, we know that success is ultimately tied to our ability to work with high-risk chemical facilities to meet the 18 security-focused Risk Based Performance Standards that comprise the core of the program.

The universe of high-risk chemical infrastructure covered by the CFATS regulation includes approximately 4,000 facilities, many of which are small and mid-sized chemical manufacturers. In implementing the CFATS program, ISCD strives to minimize the impact on facilities while achieving the program’s important security-focused goals. I firmly believe that DHS and the chemical industry have a shared stake in the success of the CFATS program, and—in the 18 months I’ve had the privilege to serve at ISCD—I’ve been struck by how dedicated SOCMA members and stakeholders across the Chemical and Oil/Natural Gas sectors have been to working with ISCD to foster the security of our Nation’s highest-risk chemical infrastructure. Taking stock of the past year, I’m pleased to report the significant progress we’ve made to date. Having developed a 95-point Action Plan to address historical challenges, we’ve completed work on 87 of the action items—successfully streamlining our review processes for facilities’ Site Security Plans (SSPs), improving our inspections-related procedures, and solidifying the Division’s organizational structure. In July, we resumed conducting authorization inspections and have now authorized more than 200 Site Security Plans (SSPs) and approved 22. 

Working with industry, we’ve encouraged the development of Alternative Security Program templates that may provide a quicker means for facilities to attain authorization/approval of their Plans. Additionally, we are kicking off an effort to improve our suite of web-based tools, including the tool facilities use to build their SSPs.  We recognize that our online tools need to become more user-friendly—both for facilities and for ISCD’s reviewers—and this is an important priority for the program.

As we move into 2013, our stakeholders can anticipate a significantly heightened pace of authorizations, inspections, and final approvals of SSPs.  We will continue to strive to improve our program in numerous other ways—including through the completion of an external peer review of our risk-tiering methodology.  I hope to be able to address more of what is on the horizon for CFATS and ISCD over the course of the coming weeks and months.  I am grateful to SOCMA as well as the dedicated professionals of ISCD for all that you have done—and continue to do—to enhance chemical-facility security across the country.

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