Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Defense Department Official Examines Federal Facilities Security Practices

Amaani Lyle at the American Forces Press Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2013 – In the wake of the Sept. 16 shooting spree at the Washington Navy Yard, officials have initiated evaluations to gauge the ability to deter, withstand and recover from the full range of threats at military installations, a senior Defense Department official said today at a Senate hearing called to examine physical security at federal facilities.

Steve Lewis, deputy director for personnel, industrial and physical security policy, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the Defense Department evaluated facility security policies and the practices it uses to reduce vulnerability of people and property.

“Based upon the results of these evaluations, active and passive measures are tailored to safeguard and prevent unauthorized access to personnel, equipment, installations and information by employing a layered security concept known as ‘security-in-depth,’” he said. 

Lewis said the deputy defense secretary will consolidate key recommendations based on concurrent independent and internal reviews to identify and recommend actions that address gaps in security programs, policies and procedures, including clearance grants and renewals for DOD employees and contractors.  The final report, Lewis explained, will be sent to the secretary of defense for review and, if approved, will be addressed in an implementation plan, in coordination with the DOD components and key federal agency partners, as appropriate.

DOD also calls for the development and maintenance of comprehensive plans to address a broad spectrum of natural and man-made scenarios, including joint response plans to adverse or terrorist incidents, such as shooters and unauthorized access to facilities, Lewis reported. Natural and man-made scenarios could include chemical and biological attacks, unauthorized access to facilities and physical security breaches. “Military commanders or their civilian equivalents, using risk-management principles, are required to conduct an annual local vulnerability assessment, and are subject every three years to a higher-headquarters assessment, such as a Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessment,” he said.

A JSIVA considers both the current threat and the capabilities that may be employed by both transnational and local terrorist organizations. “The department has worked very hard to foster improvements that produce greater efficiencies and effectiveness in facility securities,” Lewis said.  DOD efforts to harmonize facility security posture with more than 50 federal departments and agencies and with military commanders located in DOD-occupied leased space includes incorporation of the Interagency Security Committee’s physical security standards in DOD guidance, Lewis reported.

“These forums enable the sharing of best practices, physical security standards, and cyber and terrorist threat information in support of our collective resolve to enhance the quality and effectiveness of physical security of federal facilities,” he said. 

Other initiatives include the development of an Identity Management Enterprise Services Architecture, or IMESA, that will provide an enterprise approach to identity sharing and physical access control information. “IMESA will provide real-time vetting of individuals requiring unescorted access to DOD facilities, and these will be run against DOD, federal, state and other … data sources,” he said. Because IMESA users will be able to authenticate individual access credentials and fitness to enter the facility, Lewis added, “IMESA will vastly enhance the security of DOD personnel and facilities worldwide.”

Note: For the last 21 of my more than 37 years of U.S Navy/Defense Department service, I oversaw  security programs for a Defense Department command in Philadelphia.

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