A panel of National Security experts released a report concluding that the United States seaports, among other things, are still vulnerable to a major terrorist attack. While this may be true, since over 200 million containers move through top American seaports annually and only a small number of ships and containers are actually inspected, the industry seems to be responding positively to the war on terrorism.
Over 750 importers and transportation providers (Ocean, air, and rail) have signed up for the U.S. Customs Trade Partnership against
Terrorism (C-TPAT) and over half of the 20 mega-ports have signed up for U.S. Custom's Container Security Initiative (CSI).
While he agrees that the supply chain is still vulnerable, Barry Wilkins
, Director of Pinkerton's Transportation and Supply Chain Security
who has just returned from a two week tour of ports and manufacturing operations in Asia, said, "I was impressed with the positive response not only of U.S importers, but also of the foreign manufacturers response to our client's request to comply with C-TPAT requirements and harden the supply chain and of the foreign ports response to the CSI."
The C-TPAT initiative has resulted in thousands of foreign manufacturers and transportation companies hardening their supply chain from the point of manufacture and loading of the container to its final U.S. destination. Businesses that have signed up and become C-TPAT compliant will be given the "fast-lane," processing by Customs.
The CSI initiative engages the cooperation of foreign customs and foreign ports working with U.S. Customs to profile containers and identify high risk cargo before loading, by looking at factors including shipper, country of origination, route, contents, etc. This way if a C-TPAT compliant business enters a port, they will be able to move through quicker because all their information is already known.
"C-TPAT gives businesses a chance to fight the war on terrorism and CSI is a necessary link to enhance security of the sea cargo container," Bonni Tischler, Former Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Pinkerton's Product Vice President of Transportation Security, said. Having just returned from two weeks in Asia and Europe, where she trained Pinkerton's Supply Chain consultants and attended the World Customs Conference in Brussels, Tischler said, "I am convinced that these programs are making a difference."
Having participated in the creation of C-TPAT, Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations assisted over a dozen clients in joining the initiative and hardening their supply chain. Some of their capabilities include:
Accessing and improving their supply chain security.
Completing C-TPAT questionnaires.
Updating or writing their global supply chain security procedures to be
Updating their minimum-security requirements with their transportation service providers, (forwarders, brokers, ocean, rail, trucking, air, third party logistic providers and overseas manufacturers and suppliers).
Providing Education and training programs to their employees, vendors and overseas transportation suppliers.
Auditing client's suppliers and manufacturers for C-TPAT security compliance.
"With thousands of additional warriors (C-TPAT compliant importers) securing our supply chain, I believe both the C-TPAT and CSI programs are working in fighting the war on terrorism," Wilkins, chair of the C-TPAT/COAC, Custom's Commercial Operations Advisory, Technical Advisory Group, said. "While much remains to be done, I applaud U.S. Customs and the overwhelming response of Industry to join in the war against terrorism."