Magazine article Security Management

Safety Act Process Needs Improvement

Magazine article Security Management

Safety Act Process Needs Improvement

Article excerpt

When Congress passed the Safety Act of 2002, security companies thought the law would give them what they needed: a cap on their liability exposure should the antiterrorism products and services they provided not completely prevent harm from an attack. The results have been disappointing.

Implementation has been slow and tortuous, say those who have braved the bureaucracy. For example, there is a 120-day-plus application process that is separate from the procurement process. As a result, at press time only 4 companies had received the Safety Act protection available since the program began accepting applications in September 2003.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "has missed a great opportunity to enhance the security of our nation and get cutting-edge technology in the hands of first responders quickly by taking such a long time to implement the Safety Act," says Andrew Howell, vice president of homeland security for the United States Chamber of Commerce (USCOC).

Now there is a move afoot to streamline the process so that the act can achieve its intended goal. For example, the USCOC wants to see DHS adopt a block designation approach in which programs, like US-VISIT, or types of equipment, such as chemical sensors, get the block designation.

In addition, the Chamber recommends linking the qualification of antiterrorism technologies and services with the procurement process. "From our perspective, it should be explicitly linked to procurement. You should make the decision when you're procuring something whether or not you are going to offer it Safety Act protection if it meets certain standards," Howell says.

Raymond Biagini, a partner with the Washington, D.C.-based McKenna Long & Aldridge law firm and one of the architects of the Safety Act, agrees. "They should literally build the Safety Act into the procurements so that they at least require companies who are going to sell them antiterror technology to represent that they will go seek Safety Act coverage."

Some signs of faster processing are already evident. DHS's Science and Technology Directorate is expected to approve more companies in the coming months, Biagini says. …

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