A Threat that Transcends: Industry reps talk customs, regulations, and the role business has to play

Sept. 8, 2003

By John F. Infanger, Editorial Director

A Threat That Transcends

Industry reps talk customs, regulations, and the role business has to play
CHICAGO - The International Cargo Security Summit held here in July had the underlying current of terrorism and security as a nationwide - and businesswide - issue in which the private sector needs to work with government, not be dictated by it. Key topics: changing U.S. Customs procedures, changing regulations, and an emphasis on
managing the risks that are manageable.

The summit was hosted by Worldwide Convention and Business Forums, a security intelligence solutions resource. Attendees: those involved in the freight/logistics supply chain from various industries, including aviation, and government.

Comments John Goldsworthy, security manager for international integrator TNT Express, "We're getting layer upon layer of requirements when we don't even know if the first layer works.

"What we need is a clarity of objectives. Who is responsible for what, when, and where?"

Assessing The Risk
Alexander Tabb is associate managing director for Kroll, Inc., a crisis management and security consulting firm. He says companies need to perform vulnerability/risk assessments to better understand where to target their limited resources. "Some risks have to be accepted," he says.

"Be concerned with those things you can control," Tabb advises. For example, he says, dirty bombs have been a well-pubicized threat but in fact such bombs are difficult to make and to safely detonate. Explosives, meanwhile, are a much more real threat that can be countered more readily. At the same time, he points out, security is not supposed to impede a process, it's to protect the process.

Eye On Government
Presenters here caution companies involved with the movement of freight about government regulations and initiatives that are being implemented or may be in the offing. In particular, two key agencies, the U.S. Customs Service and the Federal Drug Administration, may have conflicting requirements of goods and the companies moving them.

Customs is currently charged with devising manifest guidelines for air cargo, due this fall. According to James Calderwood, an attorney with Zucker, Scoutt & Rosenberger, Customs is considering a 12-hour notification requirement before cargo requires Customs clearance, he says, and possible 8 hours for the overnight express industry. Says Calderwood, "I have a feeling there will be a problem."

At the same time, he says that the FDA is proposing a 12-hour notice for the import of food, which would affect air cargo operators. It is part of FDA's increased oversight as a result of the Trade Act of 2002 that will require companies to respond to any FDA questions about goods within four hours. It also requires all goods be tracked electronically.

Of particular interest at the Chicago meeting was the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism - or, C-TPAT, a joint initiative by industry and Customs to pre-clear companies and their security processes and training. Major companies such as Target, represented here, have been first on board with Customs to facilitate the movement of their goods. The biggest caution, say officials, who agree C-TPAT offers great potential for moving goods while guarding against terrorism, is that companies that don't participate will find they must endure more inspections. They also run the risk of being less competitive against those with approved security programs.

Kroll's Tabb explains that C-TPAT is a radical shift for Customs, which traditionally was first and foremost a revenue-generating division of government. The intent is to bring industry and government closer together to more reasonably reduce the terror threat.

With C-TPAT, says Tabb, any company can apply and there are no specific standards, per se. Rather, the strength of the program is that it's an agreement between a company and Customs that a dedicated security program will be instituted and adhered to, says Tabb. The company designs a program that best fits its needs, he explains, and Customs then monitors the follow-through.

The Cyber Threat John McCarthy, executive director of the government-funded Critical Infrastructure Protection Project for George Mason University, points out that some 80 to 90 percent of the critical infrastructure in the country is owned by the private sector, so it has an integral role to play. McCarthy says the risk management model needs to be rethought because of cyber terror. "As reliance on enabling technology grows, so does your vulnerability," he explains. That is, technology is enabling companies to better identify and track threats, but is it itself secure? According to McCarthy, much of the industry struggles with the role of the chief information officer - there continues to be a lack of coordination between the physical and the cyber. Security threats are often treated separately from I.T.

About WCBF
Worldwide Conventions and Business Forums offers security intelligence solutions services, including the International Cargo Security Summit - Counter Terrorism Strategies for Freight Transportation and Logistics Supply Chain.

For information, visit www.wcbf.com.