Freedom of Information Act Office
IC Directors' Meeting Highlights
December 17, 2003
|From:||Director, Executive Secretariat|
|Subject:||IC Directors Meeting Highlights—November 13, 2003|
l. Security Update
Mr. Ficca reviewed the efforts over the past decade to address security concerns at NIH facilities and explained that in the aftermath of 9/11/01, the NIH Security Program established a three-pronged strategy aimed at:
- preventing actions that might cause harm to or compromise safety of personnel, information, and facilities,
- effectively responding to any such events, and
- mitigating results of these events.
He then noted several threats that we are likely to confront in the next 5 years, including hoaxes, harassment against scientists engaged in controversial research, and theft of sensitive information in order to compromise research, embarrass scientists involved in such research, or create controversy. Specifically, he mentioned that there is evidence that some animal rights and environmental activists in the US and abroad are coalescing in their efforts to gain access to such sensitive information.
The Federal Government has issued guidance related to personnel security, continuity of operations, and first responders. Among the critical references for NIH are an HHS memorandum to heads of Operating Divisions entitled "Security Policy" (1/30/2002) and the HHS OIG Report entitled "Review of the Physical Security at the National Institutes of Health" (4/10/2002) that found that "The NIH needs to take immediate steps to ensure that the main campus and other facilities are adequately secured."
Following this OIG finding, and with input from the NIH community including our neighbors and visitors, NIH addressed the challenge of balancing our longstanding open environment which has fostered so much interaction over the years among scientists and between the NIH and community at large with the need to meet increasing security concerns. As a result, the NIH has added physical components (fences, gates, Visitors' Center, commercial vehicle inspection center, building access controls, and CCTV) to its security program, enhanced the NIH Police, and consolidated the contract for security guard services. These efforts have been undertaken with the following goals as driving forces:
- to control access to NIH facilities effectively and efficiently
- to mitigate the threat of weaponized vehicles
- to decrease the likelihood of random violence or terrorism
- to comply with Federal and HHS requirements
- to maintain the ability of NIH staff to work in an atmosphere of openness and collegiality
Mr. Ficca explained the cost and management issues related to this intense effort. Noting that security guard contract hours are the primary cost driver at present, he presented the Perimeter Security System planning goal to continue to reduce the number of guard hours and to maintain the openness of NIH facilities while safeguarding assets. Mr. Ficca pointed out that while we can expect the cost for security to continue to decrease, all things being equal, the variables that will affect the total cost include NIH policy, new services that will come on line such as NIH personnel security, and new facilities.
In closing, Mr. Ficca noted that the OIG Report also recommended a high-level policy-setting body within the Office of the Director. Dr. Kington advised that the Steering Committee is looking at where this body will fit in the new NIH governing structure.
ll. Steering Committee Update
Dr. Kington said that he would send to IC Directors summaries of Steering Committee meetings, capturing decisions and recommendations, within 24 hours of these meetings. Agendas are available in advance of all meetings.
At the most recent Steering Committee meeting, the members discussed FTE allocation. An ad hoc committee comprising Drs. Alving, von Eschenbach, Hodes, Katz, and Volkow will work on this issue until a working group is established to handle it.
The Steering Committee also addressed the need for coding consistency to help capture trans-NIH minority health research efforts. Drs. Alving and von Eschenbach will report back with a proposal.
Dr. Kington closed the update with a reminder that IC Directors are welcome to contact Dr. Zerhouni or him with nominees or concerns related to the proposed working group suggestions.
lll. Information items
The December Advisory Committee to the Director meeting has been postponed until January 12, 2004.
Dr. Kington and the group welcomed Dr. Berg, the new Director of NIGMS, to his first meeting. He also announced that Dr. Keusch has resigned and will be leaving FIC and NIH as of December 31.
Dr. Alexander, who leads this year's NIH CFC, asked that everyone lend a hand in helping us meet our goals.
Dr. Gottesman reported that the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Clinical Center has now met 3 times.
cc: OD Staff