Why We Shouldn't Adopt the HR1 Plan for 100 Percent Cargo Screening

Recent passage of H.R.1 [Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007] calls the public's attention to issues of supply-chain security, and the potential threats faced by this nation and all those with a stake in the supply chain. The International Cargo Security Council (ICSC), a non-profit organization comprised of companies, individuals and government agencies involved in the safe and secure transport of cargo, believes that the 100 percent inspection provisions contained in H.R. 1 may further complicate implementation and compliance with existing laws and standards, including those required in the recent Safe Ports Act.

ICSC is the chief proponent and representative of those entities involved with the supply chain and its security. The ICSC agrees with Congress' intent that more can and should be done to secure our borders and supply chains against terrorist activities, and we commend them for focusing on this concern.

HR. 1, however, will impose additional cost burdens on the U.S. economy, negatively impacting businesses – both small and large – with the establishment of cargo security and inspection protocols that rely on unproven technologies and that do not insure security improvements that are commensurate with the expenses incurred.

Without such assurance, the ICSC strongly opposes the provisions requiring 100 percent inspection of ocean containers and air cargo entering the U.S., as well as the use of an undefined electronic container security device. If passed, this proposal will add uncertainty and cost to the international supply chain, severely impacting the flow of legitimate trade but with little demonstrable improvement in security.

In contrast, the ICSC supports expansion of the C-TPAT model, continued testing of new technologies that might be employed when proven, and increased emphasis on intelligence and information sharing. A layered, risk-based, targeted approach to cargo security, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, will provide more effective security with better utilization of limited resources.

The ICSC stands firm in ensuring that our member organizations have the resources and commitment to assist in the vital mission of preventing terrorism on our shores or any others. Striking the proper balance between security needs and the free-flow of legitimate trade will continue to be a challenge facing all of us. Unfortunately, slowing the international supply chain and adding significant costs by implementing unproven technologies is not consistent with that challenge.

About the author: Scott Dedic is chairman of the International Cargo Security Council and directs supply chain security for Sony Corporation. The ICSC is online at www.cargosecurity.com.

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