A new report from the General Accounting Office says the Department of Homeland Security has made progress in maritime and aviation security, but many challenges remain and mandates to achieve 100-percent cargo screening are not likely to be met.
GAO says that in the maritime sector, for example, as part of a statutory requirement to scan 100 percent of U.S.-bound container cargo by July 2012, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented the Secure Freight Initiative at select foreign ports. However, CBP does not have a plan for fully implementing the 100-percent scanning requirement by July 2012 because it questions the feasibility, although it has not performed a feasibility analysis of the requirement. Rather, CBP has planned two new initiatives to further strengthen the security of container cargo, but these initiatives will not achieve 100-percent scanning.
Similarly, in the aviation sector, TSA has made progress in meeting the statutory mandate to screen 100 percent of air cargo transported on passenger aircraft by August 2010 and in taking steps to strengthen airport security. TSA's efforts include developing a system to allow screening responsibilities to be shared across the domestic air cargo supply chain, among other steps. Despite these efforts, TSA and the industry face a number of challenges, including the voluntary nature of the program, and ensuring that approved technologies are effective with air cargo. TSA also does not expect to meet the mandated 100-percent screening deadline as it applies to air cargo transported into the U.S., in part due to existing screening exemptions for this type of cargo and challenges in harmonizing security standards with other nations. GAO is reviewing these issues as part of its ongoing work and will issue a final report next year.
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