The SSP: The First Step

The first two parts of the CFATS process, the Top Screen and Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) are meant to prepare facilities and DHS for the Site Security Plan (SSP) and its approval. They identify what COIs exist in what quantities, possible threats and existing security measures. That allows DHS to assign a tier level (1-4). From the tier levels DHS then defines the appropriate level of security for the facility.

So that brings us to the SSP. The SSP is based on 18 Risked-Based Performance Standards (RBPS). These RBPS are meant to provide facilities with guidance on the type and level of security required by DHS, but they are not strict guidelines and they do not prescribe any specific solutions. DHS realizes that each facilities is very different and it is impossible to come up with a standardized, one-size fits all solution, so the RBPS give facilities some flexibility in the types of security measures they put in place.

While the Top Screen and SVA provide a lot of information to get started on the SSP - it's not enough. Before filling out the SSP questionnaire each facility should layout a plan. Take all of the information you have gathered and using the 18 RBPS, layout a plan and procedure to cover each standard.

For example look at the first RBPS - RBPS1 requires facilities to restrict the area perimeter. The higher the tier ranking the higher the performance expectation for nearly all of the RBPS. So, a tier 1 facility would be required to have a higher level of perimeter security than a tier 3 or 4 facility. While fencing and landscaping might be enough for one facility another may need fiber optic fencing and in ground radar.

The risk-based nature of the SSP makes planning ahead even more important. It gives the entire CFATS team at a facility the time and perspective to look at the facility and its security as a whole. For many facilities that is going to mean a much smoother SSP submittal and approval process.


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