Security Standards to Help Keep Federal Facilities Safe

Not quite four months ago, the Interagency Security Committee (ISC) – which is chaired by the Department of Homeland Security, National Protection and Programs Directorate’s (NPPD), Office of Infrastructure Protection – released two publications related to the interim federal facility security standards designed to keep the nation’s more than 300,000 non-military federal facilities safe and secure.

Those publications – the Physical Security Criteria for Federal Facilities; and the Design-Basis Threat Report – are the most comprehensive federal facility security standards created to date, and establish baseline physical security measures that: (a) are innovative, (b) bolster protection against terrorist attacks and other threats, and (c) reflect the extensive subject matter expertise of the ISC itself and its individual members.

The ISC, which is composed of chief security officers and other senior executives from 45 federal agencies and departments, works to enhance the quality and effectiveness of physical security and to protect buildings and civilian federal facilities throughout the United States.   

Physical Security Criteria – A Single-Standard Approach

The Physical Security Criteria for Federal Facilities (PSC) is a compendium of standards designed to provide consistency throughout and across the large number of preexisting standards related to facility security.  In addition to consolidating existing standards, the new document establishes a baseline set of physical security measures both to be applied to all nonmilitary federal facilities and to serve as a framework to tailor the measures to the unique risks and requirements of each facility.

“The release of the Physical Security Criteria represents an important milestone for the federal government,” said Austin Smith, ISC executive director. “The PSC is the culmination of 15 years of work and the coming together of 45 departments and agencies to mitigate security threats to our federal workforce in this modern age of terror.”

The standards apply to all buildings and facilities within the United States that are occupied by federal employees for nonmilitary activities. Included in the PSC compendium are: existing buildings, new construction, and buildings undergoing major modernizations; facilities already owned – or expected to be purchased or leased; stand-alone facilities, federal campuses, and, where appropriate, individual facilities on federal campuses; and special-use facilities.

The DBT Report, Validation, and Final Publication

The ISC’s interim Design-Basis Threat (DBT) Report is a stand-alone threat assessment designed to be used in conjunction with the Physical Security Criteria compendium.  The DBT establishes a profile of the type, composition, and capabilities of various adversaries; the profile can then be used to inform the design of countermeasures called for in the PSC compendium. 

The DBT, which provides an estimate of the threats to federal facilities across a range of undesirable events, is based on intelligence information, reports, assessments, and crime statistics available to the working group at the time of publication.   It will be updated, as needed, to ensure that facilities are considering and responding to evolutions in the threat environment. 

The next steps forward for the new standards will be a 24-month validation period – which will include field testing and implementation by nonmilitary federal facilities – after which the ISC will publish final versions of both documents.

For additional information: On the ISC and federal facility standards, visit About critical infrastructure protection,

W. Craig Conklin

W. Craig Conklin, director of the Sector-Specific Agency Executive Management Office with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Infrastructure Protection, is responsible for implementing the private/public sector partnership model defined in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan for six critical-infrastructure key resource sectors: chemical, commercial facilities, critical manufacturing, emergency services, dams, and nuclear. He also is responsible for the Interagency Security Committee (ISC), which was established in response to the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The ISC is charged with developing security standards for all non-DOD (Department of Defense) buildings housing federal employees. Mr. Conklin has approximately 30 years of experience in emergency preparedness and response, Navy nuclear propulsion programs, the commercial nuclear power industry, and the federal government.



No tags to display


Translate »