Regulating an industry: TSA's push for total cargo screening
But Steen questions the exclusivity of this ruling. “It is hard to believe that only one country — France — has NCSP status with only a few others in the pipeline,” he says. “We believe that significant progress can be made if the DHS creates a more efficient organization for the evaluation of foreign country programs into the NCSP.” Because of this, Steen endorses greater investments into the program, which he calls the “key linchpin in achieving 100-percent inbound screening.”
All of this begs the question: Does the U.S. have the authority to impose such regulations? Experts have mixed opinions.
Like Steen, Radiant Global Logistics CEO Bohn Crain praises the strides made by the TSA, but he raises some important points. “The biggest challenge resides with TSA reviewing other countries’ security processes to determine the adequacy of their screening programs,” he maintains.
Crain thinks the TSA lacks jurisdiction to regulate other nations and doesn’t have the means to verify airfreight security abroad. Instead, he believes that the TSA should employ its NCSP strategy to recognize other nations’ safety procedures.
Then there are the financial implications of 100-percent screening. With an onslaught of challenges affecting the global economy, Crain worries that inspecting every piece of cargo — even those goods that would be considered low-risk — will cause delays in shipments. He fears that it might become such an inconvenience that shippers may consider other means of transportation.
“We envision more modes shifting away from air, further hindering the industry during this tough economic time,” Crain projects. “Furthermore, this may have an adverse effect on commerce since no other mode delivers cargo faster over long distances than airfreight.”
Carriers are also feeling the financial strain of increased security. In fact, James LoBello, Lufthansa Cargo’s head of security, Americas, admits that his company’s security costs have
increased tenfold in the decade after 9/11. It’s one of the key reasons why he endorses a risk-based approach to cargo screening.
“Although we understand the position behind the requests for 100-percent screening and believe this will be further adapted in the future, we are certain that through further outreach and discussion the measures could be more refined,” LoBello maintains.
After all, he explains, big initiatives require big investments — and technological and financial resources are limited. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to security, and by implementing security measures under a risk-based philosophy, the most effective balance would be reached,” LoBello explains.
It’s a viewpoint Steen shares. Simply focusing on screening and overlooking intelligence and supply-chain controls isn’t the best way to promote airfreight security, he warns. Instead, Steen encourages government agencies to think comprehensively and view supply chains from a multilayered perspective.
It seems to be an opinion many others echo in their comments about screening. In fact, if there’s a general consensus among aviation experts, it’s the importance of approaching screening from a multilayered prospective.
To the International Air Transport Association Global Head of Cargo Des Vertannes, it’s simply a matter of balancing risk management with physical screening. After all, he points out, “100-percent screening does not mean 100-percent physical screening.”
Working out the kinks
Although Vertannes lauds the work done by the TSA to improve security throughout the supply chain, he sees some potential loopholes. One key issue? Ensuring that the 100-percent screening mandate covers existing, TSA-recognized Known Consignor and Regulated Agent administrations. Making this distinction will expedite the screening process, Vertannes reasons.