In a letter to Senate leadership, the Supply Chain Security Coalition today outlined priorities it recommended the Senate consider as it begins debate on legislation to enhance cargo and port security. The Coalition represents some of the largest stakeholders in the supply chain system, including the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA, Arlington, Va.).
The upcoming Senate debate follows passage in May of cargo and port security legislation, the SAFE Ports Act (H.R. 4954), by the House of Representatives by a vote of 421-2.
"RILA and other members of the Coalition wrote to Majority Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Harry Reid to emphasize that it is essential that the Senate build on the multilayered, risk-based approach that the government and private sector have been following since 2001," said Allen Thompson, RILA’s vice president for supply chain issues. "Coalition members are fully committed to strengthening security throughout the supply chain, and believe that effective policies can achieve the dual objective of enhancing security while facilitating legitimate global commerce."
In its letter, signed by 27 organizations, the Coalition outlined specific elements that it recommended be included in any legislation, including:
· Authorizing and fully funding Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorist (C-TPAT) and ensuring Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is equipped to complete validations of certified C-TPAT members;
· Reauthorizing the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and ensuring that CBP has sufficient resources to analyze data and inspect high-risk containers overseas in partnership with our trading partners;
· Improving CBP’s Automated Targeting System (ATS) by working with private sector stakeholders in identifying what information is needed for security and why;
· Developing the proposed International Trade Data System (ITDS), which would create a uniform system for the collection and sharing of data;
· Ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) develops contingency plans to ensure that, in the event of a security incident, the global supply chain remains operational; and,
· Authorizing pilot projects to test the efficacy of new technologies including container security devices, electronic seals and scanning and screening technologies.
The Coalition also underscored several proposed mandates that it strongly opposed including:
· Mandating 100% radiological or density scanning of cargo containers, an unrealistic mandate that would divert resources from the risk assessment approach that has been followed since 9/11. Instead, Congress should continue to support and enhance existing polities that identify high-risk cargo for further screening and inspection;
· Mandating specific technologies--the Coalition emphasized that there is no technological ‘silver bullet’ for supply chain security and encouraged appropriate testing of all proposed technology solutions to determine which have the greatest reliability and provide the most beneficial information before being adopted by the government and industry;
· Regulating C-TPAT -- the Coalition supports preserving the program’s flexibility by keeping the program voluntary; and,
· Mandating the use of third party validators for C-TPAT. Instead the Coalition urges that CBP has appropriate resources to conduct validations themselves.
The Coalition also urged the Senate to reevaluate how to best direct fees collected from the industry before levying additional port security fees, pointing out that the industry already pays billions of dollars to support the maritime transportation system.