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Homeland Security

Site Assistance Visits

Department of Homeland Security assessment team and site operators examine a factory.

A Site Assistance Visit (SAV) is a vulnerability assessment conducted to develop awareness of a facility’s physical vulnerabilities and systems connectivity, interdependency, and weaknesses. SAVs inform site owners and operators about security vulnerabilities and gaps as well as protective measures to increase preparedness for all hazards, including terrorist attack.

The Department’s Office of Infrastructure Protection conducts vulnerability assessments of nationally significant critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR). Because most U.S. critical infrastructure is privately owned, the effectiveness of vulnerability assessments depends upon the voluntary collaboration of private sector owner and operators.

Basis for Site Selection

A site is selected if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • Facility is considered nationally significant CIKR, the loss of which would have significant national or regional economic and/or public health effects.
  • Facility is of such complexity or unique design that a SAV would be beneficial to infrastructure protection activities.
  • The owner or operator of the facility requests the SAV and the Office of Infrastructure Protection determines that the facility is significant and highly consequential.
  • Facility supports or is in close proximity to a National Special Security Event.

How the Site Assistance Visit Is Conducted

A site assistance visit is conducted by a Department team of highly specialized personnel tailored to the size and complexity of the facility. Team personnel may include assault planners, explosives experts, and engineers. Federal, state, and local officials from homeland security, emergency management, and law enforcement agencies frequently attend. A SAV typically takes 8–16 hours (1–2 days), depending on the facility’s size and complexity.

SAV Products and Results

The Department uses data collected during a site assistance visit to generate:

  • A site-specific report from visit observations, security expert analyses, and background data. This information is protected under the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information Program.
  • Data for national databases and analyses:
    • Included in the CIKR sector information for the Department’s critical infrastructure database.
    • Used in risk analyses and to support information for grant funding.
    • Benchmark overall security and demonstrate how critical infrastructure assets and sectors are buying down risk.

More about infrastructure data collection

Data collected during site assistance visits also is used to create documents for specific industry use, including the following types of reports:

  • Characteristics and Common Vulnerabilities (CV) - Provides an overview of the facilities and vulnerabilities within a CIKR sector, as well as sector-specific background.
  • Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activity (PI) - Identifies potential indicators of terrorist activity that allow for early detection, reporting, and prevention.
  • Protective Measures (PM) - Provides an in-depth discussion of baseline and temporary protective measures in conjunction with Homeland Security Advisory System alert levels.
Last Published Date: June 10, 2014
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