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)

 

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Homeland Security’s App for Smartphones and PC’s

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security‘s Science and Technology Directorate and its public and private sector partners have developed a must-have “app”: the First Responder Support Tools (FiRST) for computers and smartphones.

At approximately 6:30 pm on Saturday, May 1, 2010, a smoking SUV in Times Square was reported by alert street vendors. Acting quickly, NYPD evacuated vast stretches on 7th and 8th Avenues, including Broadway theatres and several other buildings and hotels in the area. The entire area was barricaded. Times Square on a Saturday evening before the shows is teaming with people, and the terrorist knew that. The bomb failed, but had it detonated, it would have killed and wounded many, according to NYPD.

In the first chaotic moments after suspicion of a bomb threat, first responders have a myriad of questions, assessments, and decisions to make, all at once, and all the while the scene could be changing rapidly. Is the bomb real? How large is the potential blast radius? Where will we evacuate people? Are there any critical infrastructure or special-needs population centers in the vicinity? Any schools, hospitals nearby? What roads should be closed? Which roads should stay open for evacuees? And on and on….What if they could get all this information in one place?

Now they can: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and its public and private sector partners have developed a must-have “app”: the First Responder Support Tools (FiRST) for computers and smartphones.

Users start by entering what they know about the (possible) bomb, including its geographical location. The app will then advise them on factors such as the distance around the bomb that should be cordoned off, the best locations for road blocks, what buildings should be evacuated or serve as shelter sites, and what some of the local “areas of concern” are – places such as schools, for instance, or other areas where large numbers of people are at risk. It will also estimate what to expect in the way of structural damage and injuries, should the bomb go off.

Because no two bomb threat scenarios are identical, there are many opportunities for users to provide information on their own unique situation, so the output of the app will be custom-tailored to them. Maps of the area can then be labelled by the user, and shared by email with other personnel.

The app can also be used in the event of toxic substance spills, as it includes information on the handling of over 3,000 hazardous materials. Using its weather feature, users can additionally determine the likely route that airborne substances will be carried by prevailing winds, and then warn or evacuate people accordingly. FiRST works on iOS and Android devices, along with PCs. It is available to first responders only, at a price of US$12 for the mobile version, or $100 for the desktop. Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security and gizmag.com

Dumb, dumber’er, or just plain downright stubborn?

A US statutory requirement to scan all incoming containers at foreign ports will take effect at the beginning of July, a date thrown into sharp relief as the House of Representatives homeland security committee approved a revamped bill that retains the clause.

The draft bill gave the industry minor cause for cheer for unrelated reasons, as it will postpone the requirement for workers to renew their transportation worker identification cards in the absence of Department of Homeland Security regulations on biometric card readers. But the 100% scanning requirement has proved its resilience yet again.

Since 2006 shippers, spearheaded by associations that include the National Retail Federation, have been campaigning to get the requirement eliminated on grounds that it is impractical and costly and could trigger foreign government retaliation against cargoes originating from the US. US homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano has pointed out the impracticality of the law and proposed a two-year postponement.

These calls went unheeded in the house, as the homeland security committee on Wednesday approved the Securing Maritime Activities through Risk-based Targeting for Port Security Act, known as the Smart Port Security Act. The Smart Port Security Act reauthorises the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act, known as the Safe Port Act, which became law in 2007.

The Safe Port Act implements the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, including the contentious provision that all US-bound containers will be scanned at origin from July 2012. A fig leaf in the Safe Port Act allows the homeland security secretary to grant waivers to individual ports, under conditions that are somewhat vague. Last year, a Safe port reauthorisation draft in the Senate proposed a broad waiver of the 100% scanning requirement.

With the clock now ticking to July 1, shippers were particularly anxious to get the house bill to remove the 100% scanning clause permanently.

The homeland security committee passed a version that allows DHS to recognise other countries’ trusted shipper programmes and allows the US Coast Guard to recognise other governments’ port security threat assessments, but stops short of jettisoning the 100% scanning clause.

Republican congresswoman Candice Miller, chair of the subcommittee on border and maritime security, hailed the new bill, saying: “Securing our waterways is an essential component of a layered approach to security.

“This bill enhances risk-based security measures overseas before the threat reaches our shores, emphasising a stronger collaborative environment between customs and border protection and the US Coast Guard in sharing port security duties and leveraging the maritime security work of our trusted allies.”

Comment: Huh!, to whom does this refer? Such a statement flies in the face of its own C-TPAT program and bilateral overtures with foreign ports (supposedly based on risk). Perhaps its time for the ‘trusted allies’ to deport CSI teams who have not necessarily endeared themselves to their respective host nations.

Source: Lloydslist.com

America – shees verry beeeeg!

Publication of the latest USCBP Border Patrol Strategic Plan reflects and builds on the transformation of the United States’ relationships with Mexico and Canada, particularly in the areas of border management and security. The joint Declaration of Principles for the 21st-century border represents an enhanced and strengthened commitment to fundamentally restructure the way we manage our shared border. The depth and breadth of cooperation that occurs now between the United States and Mexico was unthinkable even a few years ago. Similarly, the Beyond the Border declaration between Canada and the United States has an equally significant potential in what is already our historically extraordinary relationship with Canada. These developments have created unprecedented opportunities with both Mexico and Canada, in which DHS and CBP will play a defining role, to improve our security and economic competitiveness – and CBP will play a defining role in taking advantage of those opportunities. The Border Patrol in turn is key to advancing CBP’s security agendas with Mexico and Canada, working with its law enforcement counterparts in each country to identify and mitigate threats.

The U.S. Border Patrol is a premier law enforcement organization, recognized around the world for expertise, capabilities, and professionalism. CBP’s officers and agents are the frontline, the guardians of the Nation’s borders. We honor and are proud of them, and we thank them for everything that they do to protect America and the American people. Source: CBP.gov

So there you have it – for a real dose of commercialized Customs and what it can do for the good folks in America, and anywhere else in the world for that matter, check out the strategic plan by clicking here! You’ll be forgiven if you thought you were reading an edition of Jane’s Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis. Most customs and border management agencies around the world can only dream about such impressive kit! 

Related items

US launches National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano unveiled  the Obama administration’s National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland yesterday (25 January). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to facilitating legitimate trade and travel, while preventing terrorists from exploiting supply chains, protecting transportation systems from attacks and disruptions, and increasing the resilience of global supply chains.

The National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security outlines clear goals to promote the efficient and secure movement of goods and foster a resilient supply chain system. It also provides guidance for the U.S. government and crucial domestic, international, public and private stakeholders who share a common interest in the security and resiliency of the global supply chain. (Why call it a “National” strategy when it impacts the international community?)

DHS works with leaders from global shipping companies and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on developing preventative measures, including terrorism awareness training for employees and vetting personnel with access to cargo. Fulfilling a requirement of the 9/11 Act, 100 percent of high risk cargo on international flights bound for the United States is screened.

In addition, through the Container Security Initiative currently operational in over 50 foreign seaports in Europe, North, Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and throughout Asia, U.S. Customs and Border Protection helps our partner countries identify and screen U.S.-bound maritime containers before they reach the U.S..

Following the release of the National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security, DHS and the Department of State will lead a six month engagement period with the international community and industry stakeholders to solicit feedback and specific recommendations on how to implement the Strategy in a cost-effective and collaborative manner. You can find the Strategy by clicking here! Also, for a summary of the strategy in presentation format, click here! We wait with bated breath to find out whats going to be new here, besides more onerous reporting requirements!

Source: US Press Secretary and The White House Blog.

Homeland Security’s Private Sector Resources Catalog v.3

Being an importer, broker, carrier, or even just a plain old citizen in the USA implies you’re always going to get the most comprehensive guidance. Moreover you’re also going to need a fulltime lawyer or trade specialist to delve into and decifer the info – that’s why consultants make so much money.

The DHS has released version 3 of its Private Sector Resources Catalog targeted specifically towards private sector partners and encompassing the entire Department. This document collects the training, publications, guidance, alerts, newsletters, programs, and services available to the private sector across the Department. Recognizing the breadth and diversity of the available resources as well as the Department’s continually evolving work, this catalog will be updated regularly to publicize new resources and increase private sector awareness. Source: DHS

Zero Tolerance – the saga of 100% scanning continues

Various opinions on this subject have been voiced over the last 3 years – the threat of sea and airborne cargo being used as ‘a delivery mechanism’ for a nuclear or terrorist attack. Besides the US calling for 100% scanning of containerised cargoes at point of origin, the reality remains that less than 4% of seaborne containers are being scanned at port of departure.

Post 9/11, the US was quick to initiate a multi-layered approach to securing America against another terrorist attack. This entailed a number of domestic and extra-territorial programmes. At the bottom of each of these lies an authoritarian distrust or question mark against the integrity of entities involved in the international supply chain. In as much as these modern-day Customs’ initiatives aim to deal with tangible and intangible threats, one can begin to question the motives used by many governments and organisations in introducing such programs.

Last year, the US postponed it’s requirement for 100% scanning of inbound boxes by at least two years because of technical and funding issues. (Lets not forget the massive outcry from foreign countries of origin who envisaged their own ports coming to a standstill). The 2014 deadline, as it stands, would require any container heading to the US to be scanned for conventional as well as radioactive threats before being loaded at a foreign port.

However, in June 2011, US Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano went on record saying that 100% scanning was “probably not the best way to go”. She said Congress was considering a “more layered approach” to container security, a combined system of scanning, data and risk analysis, physical checks and closer co-operation with ports and countries around the world.

Could it be that the promise of mega-deals for the ‘security industry’ is under serious threat given limited success and results from these ‘supply chain’ initiatives? One hears less and less about the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts for non-intrusive equipment. Funding is a big issue, and no less an issue is the question mark which countries of origin have regarding the direct intrusion these US-domestic policies have on their local economies and supply chains.

The WCO went a long way in accommodating and addressing the question of international terrorism which in the view of many helped curbed the ‘paranoia’ which prevailed post 9/11. Still the question of motive and opportunity spurred several organisations and governments to support the many bilateral developments that ensued. The EU Commission for one was infuriated by the bilateral overtures of the CBP and EU Custom’s administrations before diplomatic agreement prevailed.

The bottom line is that a nation’s domestic policy overrides that of the wants and whims of the more affluent states. Several donor programs nowadays offer ‘security equipment’ free of charge to countries packaged with ‘capacity building programmes’ to instil the desired mentality of the donor country or agency. Traditional forms of customs control and human initiative/intuition are being cast out on the trash heap as primitive everywhere, yet there is little to show for the billions of dollars spent on anti-terrorism measures year after year. However, reading the article – Zero Tolerance – you get the impression of a little desperation on the part of the engineers and manufacturers of nuclear based security equipment – almost wishing a further nuclear calamity to prove their point! Source of article: www.portstrategy.com