CFATS Reauthorization-A National Security and Economic Imperative

In 2014, Congress granted, for the first time, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program a four-year authorization, which is set to expire in January 2019. Since then, the program has made significant progress in securing the nation's high-risk chemicals, and continues to look for ways to streamline and improve its operations. As the end of the four-year authorization draws near, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD,) is working with Congress and the chemical security community on reauthorization for CFATS.

The 2014 authorization paved the way to a collaborative effort between government and industry to better secure the Nation's high-risk chemical facilities through smart and efficient security investments. It brought stability for stakeholders, while also allowing the Department to further innovate and improve the program. Looking back at the accomplishments of the past almost four years, it is important to note that collaboration between DHS and the industry stakeholder community is at the center of the program's current success. In particular, SOCMA has been instrumental in supporting our information sharing efforts with the specialty chemical manufacturers' community. 

Since 2014, DHS enhanced the risk-tiering methodology to better assess risk at chemical facilities with holdings of chemicals of interest at certain quantities and concentrations. This foundational element of the program was developed in coordination with industry and government partners, reviewed by the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute (HSSAI) expert panel, and independently verified and validated by Sandia National Laboratories. In addition, the Department streamlined the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) 2.0 to reduce the burden on industry by significantly cutting the time it takes to submit information to the Department; implemented the Expedited Approval Program; established a compliance culture by working with the regulated community to implement thousands of security measures; enhanced transparency by continuously sharing information on various programmatic updates, retiering, and publication of the penalty policy; implemented the Personnel Surety Program in Tier 1 and Tier 2; improved outreach to first responders and new potentially high-risk facilities; increased information sharing of lessons learned with covered facilities; and promoted a know your customer culture throughout the CFATS community.  

Industry leaders have applauded these achievements during regular meetings and Congressional hearings, and have expressed staunch support for the reauthorization of CFATS. The CFATS stakeholder community has continuously highlighted that it considers the program structure very sound, and its flexibility a key strength. According to industry members, the CFATS programmatic improvements over the last four years have cut out waste and increased security value. Moreover, industry stakeholders have expressed appreciation for the professionalism and collaboration of the Department to help high-risk chemical facilities come into compliance with the regulation. 

One thing is certain-the threat that gave rise to CFATS has not changed, and the program remains flexible to adapt to the threat environment. The significant reduction of dangerous chemicals at thousands of high-risk chemical facilities is an important success of CFATS, and is attributable to both the design of the program, and the work of DHS personnel and industry. And as we, at NPPD, continue to streamline programmatic processes while advancing security, we appreciate our stakeholders' commitment in supporting our Nation's chemical security posture. Getting CFATS right is both a national security and an economic imperative. 
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