WASHINGTON: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began container security device (CSD) examination in 2004, prior to the Safe Port Act of 2006. According to the 2010 Government Accountability Office report Supply Chain Security, “From 2004 through 2009, [the DHS Science & Technology Directorate] spent approximately $60 million and made varying levels of progress in the research and development of its four container security technology projects.”
The Safe Port Act designated the DHS secretary, through the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to ensure the use of container security devices, and the act specifically defined that a CSD must “identify positively a container to detect and record the unauthorized intrusion of a container and to secure a container against tampering throughout the supply chain. Such a device, or system, shall have a low false alarm rate as determined by the secretary.” Today, CBP has not done its job. Container security advancement and the track record of our government agencies demonstrate clearly that CBP is either simply ignorant of current supply chain security technology or fails to understand its use and benefits in securing our ports and mainland. Additionally, CBP has not done its job in learning how CSDs function, even though it has been directed to do so by the Safe Port Act of 2006.
Given its antiterrorism role, which includes monitoring container movements through the port system, it is appropriate that CBP, the largest DHS agency, be responsible for reducing container security vulnerabilities associated with the supply chain – the flow of goods from origin to destination while also facilitating legitimate trade. CBP has a number of programs and pilots, such as Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, the Automated Commercial Environment System, Ten + Two, the Secured Trade Corridor Pilot Program, Trusted Trader Program, TwentyFour Manifest, Automated Targeting System, Container Security Initiative and so on. But where is the mandated use of CSDs? Certain CSDs today surpass the container intrusion requirements set forth in the Safe Port Act of 2006 by incorporating a classic chainof-custody system within the CSD itself. This means that the CSD can provide, at origin, the identity of the individual certifying the cargo, identification number of the container or trailer, necessary manifest data, monitoring to destination, any breach into that container from any portion of the container, geographic location of where the breach took place and the identity of the individual opening the conveyance at destination. These new CSDs can also, when needed, signal any off-course movement of the conveyance from its predetermined travel course, known as “geo-fencing.”