TSA takes another step to protect at-risk air cargo

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National Press Release
Friday, April 9, 2004

WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented another important element of its Air Cargo Strategic Plan today by moving to enhance the agency's Known Shipper database. The agency is issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to industry experts so that TSA can evaluate the latest techniques and technologies available for identifying at-risk cargo.

"We must be smarter than our enemies to win the war on terror," said TSA's Acting Administrator, Rear Adm. David M. Stone. "By developing new methods to target high-risk cargo we can focus our resources where they are needed most. This threat-based risk-managed approach will allow TSA to bring air cargo security to a new level."

The RFI will seek input from experts in cargo logistics, security assessment, cargo transport, and others who can provide insight into improving the identification and isolation of high-risk cargo. These targeting tools will then allow agencies within the Department of Homeland Security to provide a higher level of scrutiny to cargo it identifies as high-risk.

TSA's Air Cargo Strategic Plan, approved in January, details a multi-phased, layered approach towards strengthening air cargo security. The plan focuses on four major components.

  1. Enhancing the Known Shipper Program.
  2. Establishing a cargo pre-screening system that identifies potentially high-risk cargo and ensuring that 100 percent of it is inspected.
  3. Launching an aggressive slate of major research and development programs for air cargo.
  4. Partnering with stakeholders to implement additional measures such as enhanced background checks on persons with access to cargo and new procedures for securing aircraft between flights.

TSA has already implemented a number of measures called for by the Strategic Plan. They include:

  1. A commitment of $55 million to develop new technologies for inspecting cargo for explosives, radiation, chemical and biological agents, and other dangerous substances.
  2. Requiring foreign all-cargo carriers to comply with current cargo security procedures for domestic air carriers.
  3. Requiring passenger and all-cargo carriers to perform random inspections of air cargo.
  4. Beginning an effort to utilize current explosive detection technology to screen non-containerized "break-bulk" cargo.
  5. Expanding the Known Shipper database by involving more companies and collecting more information.

The Known Shipper database provides a systematic approach to assess risk and determine the legitimacy of shippers. Passenger Air Carriers and Indirect Air Carriers must comply with a broad range of specific security requirements to qualify their clients as Known Shippers.