NIH Gearing up for Perimeter Fence on August 29

(Similar article appears in July 29 issue of the NIH Record)

The NIH Perimeter Security System (PSS) – to most of us, the fence surrounding the NIH campus – will be operational on August 29, 2005 . 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 facilities to check for IDs and screen visitors. Moving most of the screening to the perimeter fosters an “open campus” environment.

OK. But what does it mean to YOU?

NIH Employees

Vehicle Access

There is no change to vehicle entrance hours. Employees and contractors with valid NIH ID badges can enter all vehicle entrances during normal business hours and the NIH Gateway Center at Metro (Rockville Pike and South Drive ) is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. See specific gate hours on NIH campus maps External website.

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 DHHS-issued IDs, and will verify that you get a green light to proceed. Passengers without an NIH or DHHS-issued ID badge can enter campus via the Gateway Center at Metro and receive an NIH Visitor ID badge after being screened.

During evenings and weekends, drivers may use the vehicle entrances at Rockville Pike & South Drive (Metro), 24 hours a day and Old Georgetown Rd. and Center Dr. during regular operating hours. See specific gate hours on campus maps listed at

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.

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, wait for a green light 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 .

NIH Visitors

Vehicle Access

Visitors driving to campus can enter at the Metro entrance where vehicle inspections, visitor screening and badge issuance will be done at the vehicle inspection station.

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 Road and South Drive (adjacent to the 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 Drive is open 7am – 3pm , 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 DHHS-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.

Remember to “validate” your NIH badge

Be sure to stop by one of the self-service badge validation stations to confirm that your badge is functioning properly for easy access to the NIH campus. A red or alternating red and green flashing light on the card reader means your badge is not working properly and needs to be reissued. Contact your Administrative Officer if you need a new badge or if it is about to expire and needs to be renewed.

Stop by one of the badge validations stations at any of the 6 convenient locations on or off campus:

  • Building 31A-Building 45
  • Building 10 - Clinical Center (CRC, B1 Level Hospitality Desk )
  • Twinbrook II ( 12441 Parklawn Drive )
  • 6130 Executive Boulevard
  • 6700B Rockledge Drive

Learn More

Check out the PSS Quick Reference Guide (Employees | Visitors).

Watch for future notices about NIH security in NIH publications, global e-mails and at . Still have questions? Contact the ORS Information Line at or 301-594-6677, TTY 301-435-1908.

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