In the aftermath of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the Interagency Security Committee (ISC) was established on October 19, 1995, by Executive Order 12977 (Clinton, 1995) and charged to set long-term construction standards for locations requiring blast resistance or other specialized security measures. The ISC drafted the ISC Security Design Criteria for New Federal Office Buildings and Major Modernization Projects (ISC, 2001) to ensure that security becomes an integral part of the planning, design, and construction of these projects. Both the ISC Security Design Criteria and the GSA Draft Security Design Criteria that preceded it grew out of the Department of Justice’s Vulnerability Assessment (DOJ, 1995), written after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
The criteria are intended to employ a “flexible and realistic approach to the reliability, safety and security of Federal office buildings” and recognize that they may not be achievable in all cases. In November 1999 the GSA and the U.S. Department of State convened a symposium to discuss the apparently conflicting objectives of providing security from terrorist attack while designing public buildings in an open society. The sponsors rejected the notion of rigid, prescriptive design approaches. The symposium concluded with a challenge to the design and security professions to find aesthetically appealing architectural solutions that achieve both security and
physical protection; a balanced, performance-based approach to security and openness.
After the symposium, the Chief Architect of the GSA Public Buildings Service and the U.S. Department of State asked the NRC to evaluate the ISC Security Design Criteria and offer recommendations for improvement.
SCOPE OF THE REVIEW
In response to that request, the NRC assembled a panel of independent experts, the Committee to Review the Security Design Criteria of the Interagency Security Committee, under the auspices of the NRC Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. The 11 members of the committee have expertise in architecture, structural engineering, blast-effects mitigation, mechanical and electrical engineering, physical security, site design, risk analysis and management, facility planning and cost engineering, and performance-based building codes. Biographical information about the committee members is provided in the appendix.
The committee was charged with three specific tasks:
Review and evaluate the ISC Security Design Criteria to determine whether particular provisions could be considered prescriptive and not performance-based. Where criteria are judged by the committee to be too prescriptive to give a design professional reasonable flexibility in achieving the objective, performance-based approaches are to be suggested.
Discuss the integration of a performance-based design approach into the decision-making process identified in the ISC Security Design Criteria.
Identify practices, documents, and tools in addition to those listed in the ISC Security Design Criteria that are necessary to implement a performance-based system for security and blast-resistant design.
ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT
While performing its first task, the committee recognized the desirability of objective criteria upon which to base its evaluation, but it became immediately apparent that no objective criteria were available. Therefore, the committee determined that the most reasonable approach would be to use the professional expertise and experience of its members to assess whether a specific provision or design criterion would offer a design professional “reasonable flexibility and creativity” in achieving the desired secu-
rity and physical protection objectives. If it did not, the provision was considered overly prescriptive and alternative language proposed. If it did, this was noted but the committee often provided clarifying language. The results of the committee’s line-by-line review of the ISC Security Design Criteria, made available to the sponsor and not included in this report, are presented in a two-column, commentary format with the language of the criteria in the left column and any comments from the committee or proposed changes to that language in the right column. Besides commenting on the specific provisions of the ISC Security Design Criteria, the committee also addressed the broader issue of performance-based design, as required by the second task with which it was charged.
Performance-based regulatory processes link specific design requirements for a building to broader social, political, or economic goals. For the most part, this kind of guidance is absent from the ISC Security Design Criteria. In Chapter 2 below the committee expands on the performance-based design process, describing the steps necessary for the ISC to design a meaningful performance-based process for design of security-related mitigation of blast effects.
During its review, the committee noted that the ISC Security Design Criteria do not contain enough background information on how blasts affect buildings and people to provide a context for a security design process that can be implemented without prescriptive requirements. Chapter 3 therefore proposes a primer on blast effects on buildings and people for users of the ISC criteria that describes the nature of explosives, the effects of explosions on buildings and people, and design strategies to improve protection. This material is written primarily for the reader without specialized experience or training in blast design. It includes information that will be useful to officials from GSA and other federal agencies and their architects, engineers, and tenants (among others). This chapter addresses the third task with which the committee was charged.
The results of the committee’s assessment and its recommendations are presented in Chapter 4. The recommendations are presented in two groups. The first are those the committee believes can and should be implemented in the short term to help maximize comprehension and usage of the important security concepts in the criteria with minimum effort. The second group addresses fundamental ways the ISC Security Design Criteria could be improved in the longer term through both amendments and improvements to government oversight of their application.
Clinton, William Jefferson. 1995. Executive Order 12977, Interagency Security Committee. Washington, D.C.: The White House.
DOJ (Department of Justice). 1995. Vulnerability Assessment of Federal Facilities. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.
ISC (Interagency Security Committee). 2001. ISC Security Design Criteria for New Federal Office Buildings and Major Modernization Projects. Washington, D.C.: General Services Administration.