Tighter Security in Tacoma and at Mexico Border

Concern that terrorists might try to disrupt the U.S. election in November led Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to increase security along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Border agents have increased cargo inspections, including the number of trucks passing through drive-through scanners.

An estimated 4.5 million trucks cross the U.S.-Mexico border annually. At the Port of Tacoma, U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined port officials in declaring the test phase of Operation Safe Commerce (OSC) “a resounding success.” The first OSC containers arrived at the port in March, and in the five months following, hundreds of OSC containers moved through the Puget Sound Load Center at the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma.

OSC is an initiative that employs a variety of technologies and methods to track shipments from their origination point – a factory floor or an agricultural field – to a distribution center, Senator Murray explained. The moves are monitored each step along the supply chain on every mode and at each subsequent transfer point.

“We found that each supply chain is unique and very dynamic,” said Senator Murray. “The players change often and market forces have a significant impact on how those players change. We found that technology alone is not the answer. Technology is just one part of governmental policies, logistical procedures and the physical processes needed to move containers in a global economy.”

Key findings of the Puget Sound Load Center test programs include: Supply chains have points of vulnerability, both in the United States and overseas.

Technology is only part of the solution. Supply chains are complex, dynamic and unique. The same technologies cannot be universal in terms of geography, culture and economics. Solutions must be globally integrated and developed from a system-wide perspective.

Multi-national acceptance of security in the supply chain is required. A proposed “Round 2” for OSC, funded by $17 million in Office for Domestic Preparedness grants, will “stress test” selected supply chains to prove supply chain security approaches. For more on the origins of Operation Safe Commerce, see US-Canadian Cooperation Secures Supply Chain (pdf)

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