At the request of Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released a report on the status of port security efforts in the U.S., indicating significant improvement since the SAFE Port Act, which Senator Collins coauthored, became law. The report examined the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), a program administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which encourages the private sector to strengthen the security of international shipments of cargo to the U.S. The report indicates that changes to the C-TPAT program, such as the establishment of minimum security standards and improved methods for validating security practices, have been effective.
The report does, however, make recommendations for additional improvements. For example, GAO recommends that CBP establish a follow-up procedure to ensure that security vulnerabilities identified by CBP officers are addressed on a timely basis by companies in the program.
Senator Susan Collins said, “This report provides a valuable analysis of C-TPAT, which emphasizes private sector efforts and has proven to be a vital component of our nation’s overall port security efforts. This program aims to prevent a terrorist from smuggling weapons of mass destruction or other dangerous items into the U.S. in a cargo container, but without disrupting the flow of legitimate trade. That is why I ensured that the C-TPAP program was strengthened in the SAFE Port Act, which I coauthored with Senator Patty Murray.”
“This report also provides useful recommendations for further improvements to the program. I will continue to work with DHS and the private sector to ensure the effectiveness of the crucial port security program.”