DHS officials defend CFATS risk tier methodology

From: FierceHomelandSecurity


Homeland Security Department officials defended the risk assessment  methodology used to classify chemical facilities under the Chemical Facility  Anti-Terrorism Standards program during a March 14 House hearing.

The Government Accountability Office released that day a preliminary report  (.pdf) on the program criticizing officials for not considering facility  vulnerability and mostly ignoring threat data when assigning a risk tier to the  4,380 facilities nationwide covered under the CFATS regulation.

The risk methodology is largely based on the consequence to human life that  the release or theft of a chemical would cause or on the consequence to lives by  sabotage, the GAO says.

Watchdog officials find multiple faults with the methodology, based on  standards called for by the CFATS regulation. Consequence assessment should also  consider the direct economic effects, auditors say, and CFATS officials consider  threat data in the risk assessments of only about 350 facilities, just those at  risk of sabotage. In addition, they don’t take into account vulnerability, at  all. (Threat is the likelihood of an attack; vulnerability is the likelihood of  a successful attack, given an attempt.)

But focusing “principally on consequences in a regulatory compliance  framework is an appropriate way to tier facilities,” said David Wulf, director  of the DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division. He testified before the  House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the environment and the economy.

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