By Adam Salerno

Businesses Reengineering the Supply Chain for 100 Percent Screening

When Congress passed the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the law mandated 100 Percent Screening of cargo onboard passenger aircraft “commensurate with checked baggage.”  The deadline for that mandate is this weekend, August 1, 2010.  The law seeks to ensure that all 20 million lbs. of cargo is screened in advance of flights for explosive detection prior to transport.  As Douglas Brittin, the Director of Cargo Security at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says, “On August 1, if the cargo is not screened, it does not fly”.

In today’s economy, a vibrant supply chain can ensure that companies have instant access to overnight delivery to nearly 85 percent of the world’s population.  While a changing world dictates new necessities to secure the supply chain, the need for expedited trade is an important priority that must be maintained.  Tcargohe U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizes this fact, which is why we support a multi layered risk based approach to security which maximizes effectiveness and minimizes impact on businesses.

As with any unfunded mandate, the private sector was tasked with financing this effort and working with TSA to ensure this goal is accomplished. The cost has been dramatic.  Most air carriers estimate their costs to be in the tens of millions of dollars range. That figure does not include delays or increasing lead time in the supply chain. To add complexity to the issue, the mandate also included all incoming cargo from around the globe be screened. In short, the law forced companies to completely reengineer their supply chain.

To push the mandate out of the confines of the airport, TSA developed the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP).  CCSP allows other trusted shippers in the supply chain to participate in the screening process, by securing their facilities, and the chain of custody from manufacturing to the belly of the aircraft.  This too proved extremely costly for industry, but something that businesses in all modes of transportation have stepped up for.

Once the domestic deadline is hit, the focus will shift to international inbound flights. TSA needs to step forward at this point and begin to recognize foreign screening methods.  Again, because of the nature of the unfunded mandate, it is clear that TSA has not had the resources to pursue this goal yet.  However, programs like the German Aviation Security Program or the newly released European Union Framework 300, Rule 185 are comprehensive programs that mirror the basic fundamentals of the TSA program domestically.  Working with the international community to ensure that our programs are mutually accepted is essential to ensure that businesses are not duplicating an already burdensome process.

It has been a long and costly road for industry, but with the August 1, 2010 deadline just days away, many are feeling cautiously optimistic that the deadline will be met. Thanks to the ingenuity of the freight forwarders, the airlines, and participants in CCSP, because without their time, effort, and serious investment, a dramatic halt of trade would have become reality. Their investment in security ensured that commerce will continue to move forward at the speed businesses rely on in the air environment.

Adam Salerno is a Senior Manager in the National Security and Emergency Preparedness Department at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He also manages the Chamber’s Global Supply Chain Security Working Group.

This piece was originally posted on The ChamberPost, the blog for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.