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Physical Security and Emergency Management Director's Remarks

Portrait of Cynthia Slinkosky.

Cynthia Slinkosky
Service Director, Physical Security and Emergency Management Service

As a security professional with over 15 years’ experience in the physical security, antiterrorism, emergency management, and information security disciplines, providing for the safety and security of employees is always my number one priority. The most important aspect of the PSC Physical Security and Emergency Management’s daily mission is ensuring the safety and security of all HHS employees, visitors, and assets.

Most of our work happens behind the scenes, from developing, coordinating, and implementing Department-wide physical and electronic security, to emergency response policies and procedures, to overseeing daily protective security officer operations at the Hubert H. Humphrey (HHH) and 5600 Fishers Lane Buildings. The Physical Security and Emergency Management team works daily to serve our HHS customers by improving access control programs, administering the Department’s enterprise physical access control system (PACS), and emergency notification system, Alert HHS, among other critical tasks.

In 2021, we will continue to expand upon our customer outreach through improved access to resources using a variety of tools and platforms such as the intranet, SharePoint, Alert HHS, and stakeholder working groups. These working groups provide a platform for necessary coordination to maximize the safety and security of HHS employees, locally, regionally, and nationwide. Specific to the national capital region, we are working to modernize and improve security across the SW Complex and 5600 Fishers Lane Buildings and will continue to expand access to Alert HHS emergency notifications, so all HHS employees receive these vital, time sensitive notifications.

        – Cynthia Slinkosky
           Service Director, Physical Security and Emergency Management

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Overcoming Physical Security Challenges

Physical security lapses can pose significant challenges to any organization. We have frequent visitors to our facilities, including contractors or vendors, who potentially add to our daily risk. These challenges are increased during max-telework times, where there are less eyes in the building to observe, and more sensitive operations are taking place in higher security risk locations outside of our more secure facilities.

Help protect our Department against security threats by following these two critical steps:

  1. Dispose Confidential/Sensitive Documents. One of the most common ways for someone to acquire confidential information is to look through our trash — at work or at home. Adversaries will check for sensitive documents that have been disposed to gather personnel, operations, and organizational information. Practice good operational security by knowing your records management policies and procedures. For those documents which require disposal, shred all potentially sensitive documents and discard them in approved bins in accordance with approved office procedures.
  2. Report Suspicious Activities
    • “See Something, Say Something.” We have all been exposed to this U.S. Department of Homeland Security message. This simple, yet vital slogan represents the best way you can make a difference. If you see something that appears suspicious, please report it immediately.
    • Report crimes/suspicious activities on or near HHS property immediately. Know who to contact if you see any crime or suspicious activity. First call 911, then contact your respective facility security command center/desk, followed by Federal Protective Services (FPS).
    • Inform security of non-criminal/suspicious activity on or near HHS property. Some activity may warrant a security report. Advise your facility security officers using the contact information below. The security team will create an incident report, or refer the matter to the appropriate officials.
      • SW Complex Security Coordination Centers (SCC)
        • HHH: (202) 690-6315
        • Mary E. Switzer: (202) 774-2346
        • Wilber J. Cohen: (202) 382-7111
        • Thomas P. O’Neil (FOB 8): (202) 225-0911
        • 5600 Fishers Lane Security Command Center at (301) 443-4144 or (301) 443-4145
        • Federal Protective Services at (301) 763-0040 or (301) 763-0126
      • If warranted, or requested, security officers will refer the complainant to FPS, so that an official police report can be initiated.
    • As appropriate, report security issues to your operating division or staff division leadership and/or security offices so administrative actions can be taken to prevent similar future incidents.

Note all reports are handled in accordance with privacy act laws and regulations.

For additional contact information and guidance, contact the Physical Security and Emergency Management team at (833) 621-PSEM (7736) or physicalsecurity@hhs.gov.

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Electronic Security Information & Topics

A Security System That Serves You

The Physical Security and Emergency Management Electronic Security Systems team is responsible for installing and maintaining electronic security technologies and integrating them with existing facility security measures. The team integrates four major security components: Physical Access Control (PACS), Visitor Management System (VMS), Video Surveillance System (VSS), and Intrusion Detection System (IDS).

Card Reader Facts

Are you experiencing card reader issues? Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards and/or badges contain a microchip, antenna, and memory that are readable by government computer applications and facility card readers. Follow the below tips and tricks to make sure your PIV card is read:

  1. Hold the card/badge squarely to the reader and hold for 3-5 seconds
  2. Position the card/badge approximately 1 to 4 inches away from the reader — the optimum distance for it to be read
  3. Wait until you hear the reader beep twice before granted access

If you have followed all these steps and still have issues gaining access, please contact physicalsecurity@hhs.gov.

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Emergency Management Information & Topics

Safety and Evacuation Guidance During Pandemics

The General Service Administration recently provided updated COVID-19 pandemic safety and evacuation procedures guidance. Employees who expect to return to a government facility are encouraged to review and be familiar with the following:

  1. Facility centric Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP). Facility plans can be located on the HHS intranet
  2. Primary and secondary evacuation routes and location of designated assembly/rally points at your assigned facility
  3. The location of the nearest fire alarm pull station
  4. OpDiv/StaffDiv specific accountability procedures
  5. Wear a face covering/mask when evacuating the building, while outside, and when re-entering their building
  6. If needed, conduct an orderly evacuation to avoid injuring self or others
  7. Always practice proper social distancing
  8. Be patient and comply with security protocols when reentering the building
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Alert HHS — What You Need to Do

Image of the Alert HHS logo with the text Be Ready, Be safe.

Alert HHS is the HHS comprehensive crisis communications and emergency notification system that allows users to receive coordinated, targeted messages by text, email, and voice on government/non-government platforms, and pop-up alerts on government-issued computers.

Don’t miss emergency messages to know what to do in emergency situations, when seconds matter.

Key points and actions needed:

  1. All HHS Employees – Edit and verify your contact information in the Alert HHS self-service portal at https://alerts9.athoc.com/SelfService/AlertHHS-ENT
  2. Assigned Administrators and Operators – Arrange to receive training by sending a request to AlertHHS@hhs.gov

For information, visit the Alert HHS website.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, email us at AlertHHS@hhs.gov.

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Did You Know?

Physical Security Organizational Email Inbox. The Physical Security Organizational email inbox — physicalsecurity@hhs.gov — is monitored from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. E.T., Monday thru Friday to receive, respond to, and take action on all your physical security requests, questions, and concerns including physical access requests, security equipment issues, coordinating building visits, and other security related requests.

PSC Physical Security and Emergency Management Toll-Free Number is Available. Call us 24/7 — (833) 621-PSEM (7736) — for urgent security and emergency management-related concerns or questions. Please continue utilizing our email for routine requests.

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Upcoming Training

Sign up for Active Shooter/Active Threat Awareness, Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP) 101, and Occupant Emergency Organization (OEO) training classes hosted by PSC Physical Security and Emergency Management.

The classes are open to all HHS full-time employees, fellows, contractors, Commissioned Corps personnel, volunteers, and interns. Attendance is highly encouraged!

Occupant Emergency Plan 101
March 10  |  10–11:30 a.m.  |  Virtual

Active Shooter/Active Threat
March 17  |  10–11:30 a.m.  |  Virtual

Occupant Emergency Organization
February 25  |  10–11:30 a.m.  |  Virtual
March 25  |  10–11:30 a.m.  |  Virtual

Register today by emailing emergency@hhs.gov and include the below information:

  1. Subject: “February or March HHS SW Complex PSEM Training Events – RSVP”
  2. Your name
  3. Name of training class(es) that you plan to attend
  4. Date of the training class you plan to attend

You will receive an Outlook meeting invite for each class requested.

For more information or questions about the training, please email us at emergency@hhs.gov.

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Upcoming Initiatives

  1. Hubert H. Humphrey building security upgrades and modernization
  2. Physical Security and Emergency Management intranet portal updates
  3. Emergency Management Individual Training Courses
  4. Expanded access to Alert HHS emergency notification messages
  5. Mary E. Switzer Building Security Advisory Group Meeting