Congress is Ill-Equipped To Regulate Supply Chain Security

In cooperation with the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas – Austin, the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) released a study that examines various institutional, legal and policy arrangements that have been established in the U.S. and overseas to enhance worldwide port and supply chain security. “The results and findings of this study come at a critical time as Congressional conferees begin to weigh the final provisions which should be included in the pending port and maritime security legislation before Congress,” said Peter J. Gatti, executive vice president of NITL.

A portion of the study includes results of a survey of NITL members on the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). Of the 44 companies that responded, 80% were C-TPAT members. Respondents commented on the lack of resources provided to fund the program and the need for increased knowledge and skill of the C-TPAT enforcers and validators. They also called for more flexibility in order to accommodate different types of firms and the products they ship.

Though respondents generally found the fundamental purpose behind C-TPAT was good and, with additional work, could achieve the balance of facilitating trade growth while strengthening supply chain security, they said Congress was ill-equipped to monitor or regulate any import-related processes. The shippers said legislators lacked the necessary understanding of international supply chains.

C-TPAT members responding to the survey generally found the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the body responsible for administering C-TPAT, slow and highly bureaucratic. Officials were poorly trained, particularly in the validation of C-TPAT participants, they said.

Some elements of the C-TPAT program should be mandated to be effective and achieve its stated benefits, said respondents.

The study consists of 11 additional chapters beyond the C-TPAT section, which includes NITL member responses.

NITL stated that, “while the League believes the report provides an excellent review of U.S. and international port and supply chain security, the views, findings and/or conclusions contained in the report are not necessarily the same or similar to those held by the League.”

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