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Vol. LVII, No. 15
July 29, 2005

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Perimeter Fence To Become Operational On Aug. 29

On the front page...

The NIH Perimeter Security System (PSS) — to most of us, the fence surrounding the NIH campus — will be operational on Monday, Aug. 29. The fence is the most obvious element of the PSS and balances the necessary level of security with as much convenience as possible for NIH employees, patients and visitors.


The most obvious change is that most security screening will take place at the perimeter. Visitors will be screened and visitor passes will be issued at designated visitor entrances at the perimeter rather than at the buildings. Most campus buildings will remain "open" during normal business hours; you will not have to use your badge to enter. Security staff will only be posted at select locations to check for IDs and screen visitors. Moving most screening to the perimeter fosters an "open campus" environment.

Okay, but what does it mean to you?

NIH Employees

Pedestrian turnstiles near Metro for NIH employees  
Vehicle Access: There is no change to vehicle entrance hours. Employees can enter all vehicle entrances during normal business hours and the NIH Gateway Center at Metro (Rt. 355 and South Drive) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. See specific gate hours on campus maps listed at

During normal business hours, drivers will present their NIH ID badge to the card reader and wait for a green light signaling a valid card. Security staff will check that you have an NIH parking hanger, that all passengers have NIH or HHS-issued IDs and will verify that you get a green light to proceed. Passengers without an NIH or HHS-issued ID badge can enter campus via the Gateway Center at Metro and receive an NIH Visitor ID badge after being screened.

After normal business hours, drivers will present their ID badge to the card reader. After receiving a green signal light, a gate arm (like the ones used at parking garages) will raise and they may proceed.

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Access: NIH ID badge holders can enter on foot or on bikes at all pedestrian portals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Badge holders can also enter through turnstiles located at vehicle entrances.

Temporary NIH Gateway Center at Metro for visitor screening and badging

Entry at pedestrian portals is a two-step process allowing one person at a time to enter through the portal. Pedestrians present their badge to the card reader outside of the portal, receive a green signal and enter the portal. After the first door closes, present your card to the badge reader inside. A green light on the card reader signals that you may proceed into the campus.

To exit, present your badge to the card reader at the gate inside the campus and pull the gate open. Once inside, depress the button marked "Push to Exit" on top of the card reader pedestal and push the second gate open to exit the campus. To ensure safety, all pedestrian portals are equipped with emergency call boxes and video monitors linked to the NIH Emergency Communications Center.

Exiting the pedestrian portal NIH employee presents ID badge to card reader at vehicle entrance.

NIH Visitors

Vehicle Access: Visitors who drive can enter the campus at the NIH Gateway Center at Metro where vehicle inspections, visitor screening and badge issuance will be done as part of the entrance process at the vehicle inspection station.

Remember To Validate Your NIH Badge

  Checking NIH ID at badge validation station
Everyone holding an NIH ID is reminded to stop by one of the self-service badge validation stations to confirm that your badge is functioning properly. It is important that employees and contractors wear their NIH ID badges at all times and make sure the badge has not expired and is working properly for easy access to the NIH campus.

If you currently use your badge for electronic access to a building, it is likely that it is functioning properly. Badge validation is quick and easy, so why not forego the guesswork? Stop by one of the badge validation stations at any of the 6 convenient locations on or off campus:

Bldg. 31A; Bldg. 45; Clinical Center (Old Admissions Desk); Twinbrook II (12441 Parklawn Dr.); 6130 Executive Blvd.; 6700 Rockledge Dr.

A red or flashing light on the card reader means your badge is not working properly and needs to be reissued. If so, contact your supervisor or administrative officer to begin the process for a new badge.

Pedestrian Access: Visitors can enter campus on foot at two locations. The NIH Gateway Center at Metro is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The NIH West Visitor Entrance at Old Georgetown Rd. and South Dr. (adjacent to vehicle entrance) is available for entry and exit during normal operating hours — 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visitor screening and visitor badges will be issued in the visitor centers.

NIH Patients and Patient Visitors

Vehicle and Pedestrian Access: Patients and patient visitors can access the campus at two locations. The NIH Patient Entrance at Cedar Lane and West Dr. is open 7 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday through Friday where screening and vehicle inspections will take place. Clinical Center Hospitality Staff will be on hand to assist. The NIH Gateway Center at Metro is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is also available to patients and patient visitors as an entry point into the campus.


Shuttles will continue to circulate on campus and transport riders to and from off-campus buildings. There will be some changes for visitors riding shuttles but little or no change for riders with NIH IDs.

On-campus shuttles: Employees can board on-campus shuttles at any shuttle stop within the perimeter fence. Employees entering campus from Metro can board the on-campus shuttle after going through a pedestrian turnstile near the Metro. Visitors must first go to the Gateway Center at Metro to get an NIH visitor badge before boarding the shuttle.

Off-campus shuttles: Shuttles coming from off-campus locations will stop briefly near the vehicle inspection station at the Metro entrance for screening. A member of the security staff will board the bus to check for NIH or HHS-issued ID badges and the vehicle will be inspected. Those without a valid badge will get off the shuttle and proceed to the NIH Gateway Visitor Center for screening and to receive an NIH Visitor badge. The off-campus shuttle will proceed through the perimeter and continue on its normal campus route. Valid badge holders will not have to switch shuttles. After obtaining a visitor badge, visitors can proceed onto campus and catch a shuttle once inside the fence.

To learn more, check out the PSS Quick Reference Guide with campus map and the PSS Photo Gallery at Watch for future notices about NIH security in NIH publications, global emails and at the web site mentioned above.

Still have questions? Contact the ORS Information Line at or (301) 594-6677, TTY (301) 435-1908.

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