CBP Agrees to Update Risk Assessments at Foreign Ports

US Customs CSI Inspection in the Port of Durban, South Africa

US Customs CSI Inspection in the Port of Durban, South Africa

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not assessed risks at select foreign ports with U.S.-bound shipments since 2005, part of a string of failures that has left key ports without a CBP presence, the Government Accountability Office says. (Hmm, never mind the impact caused to Customs administration in the host countries……)

In examining CBP’s Container Security Initiative program, GAO found that the agency developed a model for ranking additional seaports according to risk in 2009, but never implemented it because of budget cuts, according to the report.

GAO applied that risk model to 2012 cargo shipment data and found that the CSI program had no presence at about half the ports CSP found high risk. Meanwhile, 20 percent of existing CSI program ports were at lower-risk locations, according to the findings (.pdf).

Although GAO acknowledged host countries are not always willing to accommodate a CSI presence, and that removal of a CSI presence can negatively affect diplomatic relations, auditors said periodic assessments of cargo shipped from foreign ports could help CBP better guard against terror-related shipments.

Although there have been no known incidents of cargo containers being used to transport WMD, the maritime supply chain remains vulnerable to attacks. We recognize that it may not be possible to include all of the higher-risk ports in CSI because CSI requires the cooperation of sovereign foreign governments.

To better ensure the effectiveness of the CSI program, GAO recommends that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to periodically assess the supply chain security risks from all foreign ports that ship cargo to the United States and use the results of these risk assessments to (1) inform any future expansion of CSI to additional locations and (2) determine whether changes need to be made to existing CSI ports and make adjustments as appropriate and feasible.

Such assessments “would help ensure that CBP is allocating its resources to provide the greatest possible coverage of high-risk cargo to best mitigate the risk of importing weapons of mass destruction or other terrorist contraband into the United States through the maritime supply chain,” GAO said.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred with the recommendation and said CBP would complete its first assessment by Aug. 12, 2014. To access or download the GAO Report on CSI, Click Here! Source: US Government Accounting Office

Foreign Ports That CBP Coordinates with Regarding Maritime Container Shipment Examinations, as of July 2013

Foreign Ports That CBP Coordinates with Regarding Maritime Container Shipment Examinations, as of July 2013 (Table: GAO)

 

Nigeria – Customs Ready (or not) for Destination Inspection Role

Nigeran flagTrade House of Representative Committee on Customs, has expressed satisfaction with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) preparedness to take charge of the destination inspection scheme at the expiration of the six months extension granted the Service Providers by the government. Chairman of the committee, Hon. Sabo Nakudu, who disclosed this during the tour to access the performance of service providers, commended the scanners provided by the service providers as part of the contract with the federal government.

Nakudu, however frowned at the Risk Assessment Report (RAR), issued by the service providers which he said is plagued with so much controversies. He noted that the basic reason for the tour, was to confirm the preparedness of the Customs to take over and to ensure that what the service provider delivered, are as expected. According to him, “In most cases, there are instances whereby this risk assessment report are duplicated or un-utilized and instances where a particular consignment being issued with different amount.

“Agencies found (to be involved) in this regard by the committee will be probed to ensure that refund is made to the federal government on the percentages gotten from the RAR duplication.” He warned.

Nakudu maintained that the service is ready and capable of taking over the scheme from the service providers at the expiration of the extension at the end of the six months period. In his words, ” I am convinced that the Customs are trained and as you can see, the scanners are in order, but our major problem is the area of the risk assessment report, because that is where the revenue comes in from.

He also, frowned at the services of connectivity to Web Fontaine, which powers the Automated System of Customs Data (ASYCUDA), over deficiencies in its service delivery, saying that, government pays the firm $6 million monthly, without any commensurate investment and efficiency to show for it.

The committee however toured the scanning operations site in the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port Complex, and also inspected Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited (CDIL) and Global Scan Systems facilities respectively. Source: Allafrica.com

I think Nigeria has made a bold (and correct) decision to adopt responsibility for control over its mandate. Many service providers will disagree as do many of the global audit firms who believe that the field of Customs Audit (including AEO) is best outsourced to their domain. It just shows that when business opportunity in the commercial (private sector) domain is not as easy to come by how the focus turns on what public domain opportunity lies in wake for them. The more service providers/consultants in government, the more consultants are needed to oversee what the original ones are doing! This is the sad situation in South Africa at the moment.