Association Urges Full Funding of the Certified Cargo Screener Program

Despite progress being made in implementing the Certified Cargo Screener Program (CCSP), significant challenges remain in the future success due to lack of funding, according to executive director of the Airforwarders Association (AfA) in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. Brandon Fried testified that due to the extremely high cost of purchasing machinery without federal assistance, many forwarders may choose not to participate in what is TSA's primary tool to achieve 100 percent screening of cargo by the August 2010 deadline established by Congress (see also Airforwarders Association AfA).

"We are extremely concerned about the lack of government funding for the 100 percent screening mandate," said Fried. "Congress has stated that homeland security is a federal government priority —certainly, aviation security is included on that list of responsibilities. If it is a government mandate, for a government responsibility to secure our planes, why then is it not the government's money that provides for that security?"

A recent survey of Airforwarders Association members demonstrates that concerns about lack of participation are well founded. Of the 60 percent of surveyed members who have less than 10 offices, nearly 100 percent stated that without additional funds, they would not choose to participate as a certified cargo screening facility. The remaining members surveyed indicated that only a few offices would be outfitted with equipment.

The potential impact of "opting out" is dire for forwarders as well as the overall economy. Non-participants may face delays for screening at the airport, causing them to miss flights and lose revenue. This lost revenue in the current economic environment could force forwarders out of business.

Additionally, airports do not have the real estate to screen all cargo with existing resources and airlines do not have the financial or human resources to efficiently expedite screening all "just in time" cargo at the airport. These elements could combine to cause delays of up to 48 hours in cargo transportation — causing new security concerns as well as jeopardizing the integrity of delicate and perishable products such as medical supplies, fresh foods and electronics.