After doing hundreds of Audits, we see some frightening errors and problems.  The problems run the gamut from physical security problems to not following processes and protocols.  On the physical security side, some of the typical issues include: damaged fences, overgrown vegetation adjacent to fences, and fence areas used as a junkyard.  We also find open gates, damaged or missing signage, and lights that are out.

In the protocols and procedures area, we see a lack of TWIC checks, a lack of random screening, and a general lack of understanding of FSP security protocols.  We also find a lack of proper maintenance of records and documents.

All of these items are fairly obvious and should be observed in routine reviews conducted by the FSO.  They are easily corrected and should be repaired, corrected and maintained on a regular basis.

The answer to the question, "What constitutes an expert?" is fairly simple.  You want a person who thoroughly understands 33 CFR 105, is well-versed in all facility security-related issues, and is not part of your facility's security organization.  Our general guidance is that, “If you know more than your auditor, you need a new auditor.”  The auditor should be your “critical best friend” who will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly regarding your security.  The guy next door is probably not your best pick!  And if you've had the same person serving as your auditor for several years, then it's time to bring in a fresh set of eyes.  

The Audit is a critically important tool to test your FSP and your people, and to keep your facility safe and secure.  The Audit is more than just another regulatory requirement!  Your Audit must include a thorough review of your Facility Security Plan (FSP).  Additionally, it must include a complete site review of your physical security and security systems, and a test of your security screening and monitoring protocols.  At the conclusion of the Audit, you should receive a report of all findings and discrepancies.  Remember, Coast Guard Compliance Inspectors conduct inspections, not audits!!!

The recent Executive Order imposing an immigration order could affect your maritime regulated facility - if a vessel arrives with a crew member from a banned country, there may be:

1) increased CBP presence at your facility;

2) COTP orders* affecting the vessel and your facility;

3) increased USCG presence at your facility.  

* The COTP order may include directed security enhancements short of setting an increased MARSEC level, such as a dedicated security guard at the berth to ensure no unauthorized personnel depart the vessel.  

Have a conversation with your Coast Guard Inspector.  Stay aware - be secure and safe today!

The Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and the related regulation, 33CFR105, place very distinct requirements on all regulated facilities for conducting Annual Audits.  Understanding the regulatory requirements is critically important.  33CFR105.415b requires that an Audit be conducted every year by the calendar date of the previous year’s audit.  DO NOT miss this date!!

Additionally, the Audit must be conducted by an “expert” who is not part of your security organization.  In simple terms, it must be conducted by someone who does not work at your facility.  (It could be someone at a corporate level in your company or a third party consultant.) 

In our next blog we’ll address what constitutes an expert and what the Audit should include.

Personnel with Security Duties.

This month at Seebald & Associates the focus is on Facility Personnel with Security Duties (PSDs).  This Thursday we will host our monthly Webinar on PSDs - we hope you’ll join us. 

Your facility’s PSDs can be one of the major shortfalls in your security regime.  In fact, we’ve seen PSDs as the greatest compliance risk over the course of dozens of recent facility security audits.  There can be many reasons for subpar performance, for example, substandard or no training, weak management or leadership, or insufficient funding to hire and retain competent PSDs.   This blog talks about investing in reliable PSDs.

Funding for security personnel is an easy target for budget cuts because money managers don’t understand regulatory security compliance risk.  That is, a PSD failure can lead to enforcement action that can result in the Coast Guard Captain of the Port's direction to cease operations or assess significant monetary fines.  Unfortunately, many facilities cut security costs first because senior facility decision makers do not realize that PSD investments can have high returns in mitigating compliance risk.   

Cutting security costs by choosing the lowest bidder among security companies often results in a “race to the bottom” toward low PSD reliability.   There are some exceptions to this rule, but regardless it usually means that your facility has to invest in training and FSO time (conducting FSO reviews, drills and exercises) to ensure PSDs are operating at peak performance and in compliance.  

What can you do?  First, understand your PSD contract.  Know what the security company is responsible for, and hold them accountable for their performance.  Many security contracts indemnify the security provider from liability when their substandard performance results in an enforcement action – does yours? We've also discovered that poorly performing security companies provide uncertified training to their personnel - what kind of training do your PSDs receive? Are there contract requirements calling for certified training? 

The bottom line is that you get what you pay for.  The best performing security companies usually invest in the best training for their personnel and pay their personnel wages that attract and retain the best security guards available.  These reliable PSDs are a significant deterrent to nefarious activity, and an excellent confidence booster for your Coast Guard inspector. 

Look for more blogs on PSDs coming your way.  In the meantime, remember to register and participate in our PSD-focused Webinar on Thursday – we look forward to seeing you there!