GAO reports Homeland Security's ISCD needs to improve its processes

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported in April that the Department of Homeland Security's Infrastructure Security Compliance Division needs better processes for risk assessment and outreach programs for chemical facilities.

GAO evaluated the ISCD and found that since 2007, 3,500 high-risk chemical plants were classified under its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program, but the GAO did not find sufficient logic behind the ISCD's classifications. The report said the ISCD's approach did not "consider all of the elements of consequence, threat and vulnerability associated with a terrorist attack involving certain chemicals."

The GAO report said the ISCD did not consider the economic implications or vulnerability of certain chemicals, in reference to the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and the CFATS recommendations. The GAO said in April that the ISCD needs to revisit its evaluation process and develop procedures that address the issues found during the GAO's evaluation. Following this, an independent peer review will evaluate the new procedures to ensure quality.

The peer review is meant to ensure the ISCD can accurately identify and categorize chemical facilities, adequately contribute to CFATS planning and resource decisions and provide a great value to the NIPP.

The GAO predicts it will take the ISCD seven to nine years until it is able to complete 3,120 plans that were in queue in April. The CFATS recommendations, which include compliance inspections, are not expected to be implemented for eight to 10 years. ISCD is currently researching new ways to expedite the process.