Associate Deputy Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Shane
and Deputy Customs Commissioner Douglas Browning jointly announced the launch of Operation Safe Commerce (OSC), a program to fund business initiatives designed to enhance security for container cargo moving throughout the international transportation system.
Operation Safe Commerce will provide a test-bed for new security techniques that have the potential to increase the security of container shipments. DOT and Customs will use the program to identify existing vulnerabilities in the supply chain and develop improved methods for ensuring the security of cargo entering and leaving the United States
. Those security techniques that prove successful under the program will then be recommended for implementation system-wide.
Congress, through the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act, provided $28 million in funding for OSC to improve the security of container shipments through pilot projects involving the United States' three largest container ports of entry. In a Federal Register notice issued today, DOT's Transportation Security Administration
(TSA) is proposing to solicit proposals from the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, New York/New Jersey, and Seattle/Tacoma for projects that include representation from all components of the supply chain, including major and minor ports and their feeder locations, overseas customers and port partners, and the shipping lines serving these locations. The notice invites comments on the proposal from interested parties. Comments should be filed not later than December 4, 2002.
An Executive Steering Committee (ESC) co-chaired by DOT and Customs will select projects for funding and provide oversight for the program. The ESC also includes representatives from TSA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Departments of State, Justice, and Commerce, and the White House Office of Homeland Security.
"Securing America's ports is essential for protecting our homeland, which is why I developed Operation Safe Commerce and pushed it through congress," said Sen. Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. "Container traffic is critical to the health of our economy, but we do not know enough about what is in the more than 6 million containers that enter our nation each year. This initiative will ensure the security of the containers that will pass through our ports and on to America's highways and railways. TSA and Customs should be commended for taking this important step and I look forward to continuing to work with them on this and other initiatives."