Chertoff Calls for Risk Management, Not Guarantee

Speaking to the US Customs and Border Protection Trade Symposium, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chertoff noted, "I think our values strongly suggest we ought to continue to be in the risk management and not the guarantee mode." To that end, he described a layered approach to managing security, including cargo security.

The first layer is information, he pointed out. "We, in fact, screen," he explained. "That means [we] obtain information about 100% of the shipments that come into our country." That is one layer of defense that tells security officials where to focus their attention.

Automated scanning is a second layer. On that front, he highlighted scanning for radiation and weapons of mass destruction. "By the end of this year [2007], we will have almost 100% of the maritime cargo going through radiation scanning devices at our ports." He continued, noting, "We're working with foreign countries to do as much of the scanning as we can overseas." That second layer backs up the first, screening.

It is only when you get to the third layer that Chertoff was talking about actual inspection. This includes random inspections and targeted inspections.

No single strategy is sufficient to eliminate the risk, Chertoff points out. In fact, the combination of all three strategies only helps manage the risk, it is not a guarantee against risk.

The SAFE Port Act of 2006 supports this layered approach, says Chertoff. Under the SAFE Port Act, DHS is required to do 100% scanning at three overseas ports. It becomes much more complicated overseas, he explains. But despite the challenges, DHS has opened up scanning at facilities in Pakistan, Honduras, and the United Kingdom. It has four more locations scheduled to come online in the coming months, including Hong Kong.

The 9/11 Act recently passed by Congress does raise some concerns, says Chertoff. He points to the requirement to scan 100% of inbound containers overseas by 2012. "As we pointed out at the time, the difficulty with that is not every port has an architecture that accommodates radiation scanning for 100%. Not every government is going to choose to allow us to do it. And, when you're dealing with transshipment, there may be some mechanical and technological challenges."

Chertoff explained that advanced trade data through security programs such as the Customs-Trade Parternership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), the Container Security Initiative (CSI), and the Automated Targeted System depend on getting accurate information up front and using it for targeting.

"Our Security Filing Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, or 10+2, as it's commonly called, is a way of providing supply chain transparency back to the point of stuffing more information at an earlier stage of the process. And, therefore, it helps us fill some existing knowledge gaps about cargo movements and the parties who have had access to the shipment."

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the 10+2 program should be issued before the end of 2007, said Chertoff.

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