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Missouri steps up to pilot TSA/CVSA security program

By Terry Scruton
senior writer

The Missouri Department of Transportation has become the first state agency to volunteer to participate in a security review pilot program in partnership with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Transportation Security Administration.

The program, which is designed to determine the security status and needs of the trucking industry, will kick off sometime in early 2006.

MoDOT Motor Carrier Services investigators will assess the security needs of trucking companies as they perform safety checks on companies and equipment.

Ben Goodin, motor carrier enforcement administrator with MoDOT, told Land Line that the program is going to examine a variety of security issues within the trucking industry.

"We're going to look at general security information of the motor carrier and offer recommendations for a security plan to be developed and implemented," he said.

Among the topics Goodin said inspectors will discuss with motor carriers are identification programs, driver background checks, facility security and in-route security.

Information collected under the program will be sent to the TSA, which will use it to monitor trends and develop plans to deal with potential safety issues.

Tom Weakley, of the OOIDA Foundation, said questions that are going to be used for the program are very similar to those already in use for hazmat security checks.

"For a hazmat hauler, I understand the concerns," he said. "But suppose I'm hauling wooden pallets, why would you ask me if I have a 24/7 call center in place? Of course I don't. I don't have a security plan; I've never had to have one in place. The questions aren't appropriate."

Weakley said the program came about after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff issued a mandate asking for the state of security within the transportation industry.

"No one could give him a good answer," Weakley said. "So this became their project to find out the security status of the trucking industry."

If the program in Missouri is successful, similar programs in other states may follow. Goodin said Missouri is so far the only state that has volunteered.