CFATS increasingly under congressional gaze
Fallout from a leaked Homeland Security Department internal memo detailing problems with a program regulating facilities with hazardous chemicals continued March 6 with a second congressional hearing.
Fox News obtained in December a memo written at the behest of Rand Beers, head of DHS's national protection and program directorate on the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program. The memo detailed problems such as wasteful spending and unqualified personnel, Fox says. During a Feb. 3 House hearing, Republican lawmakers castigated Beers for the program's mismanagement, with one congressman suggesting Beers consider resigning.
A March 6 hearing before the House Homeland Security subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection and security technologies was less contentious, although representatives nonetheless were at times critical.
"There ought to be no more surprises as we finish implementing the CFATS program," admonished Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.).
During the hearing, memo author Penny Anderson, director of the infrastructure security compliance division within NPPD, said response to the memo hasn't taken into account the full context of the CFATS program. Because she wrote it for internal purposes, she said, the memo "didn't provide the context that would have been necessary for external readers."
The challenges she detailed, she added, "are not uncommon to a new program standing up in a government environment, standing up very quickly."
As for progress in the matter of authorizing site security plans from covered facilities, Beers says the program has authorized--or conditionally authorized--55 of 117 plans submitted by Tier 1 facilities and conducted 10 post-plan submission inspections. Program officials plan to review the remainder of the Tier 1 plans within the next few months, and start in on Tier 2 plan review during the summer, Beers added.
According to Beers' written testimony, CFATS currently covers 4,464 high-risk facilities nationwide, of which 3,693 are now "subject to final high-risk determinations and due dates for submission" a security plan.
- go to the hearing webpage (prepared testimony and webcast available)