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DHS Personnel Surety Program shows good progress on security enhancements

The U.S. chemical industry proudly employs nearly 800,000 men and women across the 50 states. Many are based in chemical facilities where they help manufacture products that are critical to the everyday health and well-being of our nation.

That’s why ACC believes it’s important to work with the federal government to ensure that individuals with access to sensitive areas of high-risk chemical facilities are trustworthy and do not present a threat to the facility, its workers or to the surrounding community.

DHS Personnel Surety Program

Right now, ACC and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are working together to improve the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) Personnel Surety Program (PSP). We commend DHS for recognizing the concerns that were expressed regarding their initial proposal and taking the time to get input from all stakeholders to draft the Agency’s latest version of the proposal.

ACC members recently submitted comments on the PSP proposal to ensure the final program allows for more accurate data collection and a process that puts that data to good use, while minimizing the burden on the regulated community.

Let’s take a look at both the positive changes reflected in the latest PSP proposal, some of ACC’s outstanding concerns and our recommendations for further improvement to the program.

Positive Changes

DHS has allowed for the expanded use of existing Federal vetting programs, specifically by recognizing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Program and the Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) Program as viable compliance options to validate personnel security information.

DHS is also providing additional leeway in assigning CSAT user roles to include third-party submitters and consolidated (corporate) submissions.

Finally, DHS is proposing the gradual implementation for the PSP, beginning with Tier 1 and Tier 2 high-risk chemical facilities.  These incremental actions will allow DHS and CFATS Regulated Facilities to incorporate lessons learned and make improvements to the program prior to implementation in Tier 3 and Tier 4 facilities.

Some Outstanding Concerns

DHS does not provide any detail to the regulated facility regarding their vetting procedures, including how and under what circumstances DHS will notify a facility that their personnel have been successfully vetted and how matches against the TSDB are resolved. ACC believes that DHS must provide proper and timely notification to the covered facility that such persons have been vetted and are cleared for access prior to entry.

Again, the goal of PSP is to ensure that personnel who have access to sensitive areas of high-risk chemical facilities do not pose a security threat to the facility, its workers or to the surrounding community.

Our Recommendations

ACC recommends the following options to help enhance the PSP proposal in a manner that meets DHS’s goals for personnel surety, improves the utility of the information collected while minimizing burdens on regulated industry:

  • Expand the TWIC program to CFATS
  • Establish a “public” website to allow individuals to voluntarily enter Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Improve the notification to the facility regarding the vetting of its employees and contractors against the TSDB.

As part of our commitment to create an effective chemical security program that allows our industry to continue to develop innovative solutions, create jobs and enhance security, ACC will continue to provide constructive feedback to DHS in order to develop a more effective Personnel Surety Program that can be implemented at chemical facilities across the nation.

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