Cargo Security: Partnership Program Grants Importers Reduced Scrutiny with Limited Assurance of Improved Security

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This report is a publicly available version of our report on the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated our original report as Limited Official Use because of the sensitive and specific nature of the information it contained. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the DHS bureau responsible for protecting the nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry, has the dual goals of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States and also facilitating the flow ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. March 11, 2005.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This report is a publicly available version of our report on the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated our original report as Limited Official Use because of the sensitive and specific nature of the information it contained. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the DHS bureau responsible for protecting the nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry, has the dual goals of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States and also facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Approximately 90 percent of the world's cargo moves by container. Addressing the threat posed by the movement of containerized cargo across U.S. borders has traditionally posed many challenges for CBP, in particular balancing the bureau's border protection functions and trade enforcement mission with its goal of facilitating the flow of cargo and persons into the United States. CBP has said that the large volume of imports and its limited resources make it impossible to physically inspect all oceangoing containers without disrupting the flow of commerce, and it is unrealistic to expect that all containers warrant such inspection. To address its responsibility to improve cargo security while facilitating commerce, CBP employs multiple strategies. Among these strategies, CBP has in place an initiative known as C-TPAT, which aims to secure the flow of goods bound for the United States by developing a strong, voluntary antiterrorism partnership with the trade community. C-TPAT members commit to improving the security of their supply chain (flow of goods from manufacturer to retailer) and develop written security profiles that outline the security measures in place for the company's supply chain. In exchange for this commitment, CBP offers C-TPAT members benefits for participating that may reduce the level of scrutiny given to their shipments, potentially resulting in a reduced number of inspections of their cargo at U.S. borders. The program is promising, but previous work has raised concerns about its management and its ability to achieve its ultimate goal of improved cargo security. Given our past concerns about the program's effectiveness and in light of the program's rapid expansion, we examined selected aspects of the program's operation and management. This report addresses the following issues: (1) What benefits does CBP provide to C-TPAT members? (2) Before providing benefits, what approach does CBP take to determine C-TPAT members' eligibility for them? (3) After providing benefits, how does CBP verify that members have implemented their security measures? and (4) To what extent has CBP developed strategies and related management tools for achieving the program's goals?"

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • March 11, 2005

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Cargo Security: Partnership Program Grants Importers Reduced Scrutiny with Limited Assurance of Improved Security, report, March 11, 2005; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc296469/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.