U.S. considering privatizing cargo security

| Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Department of Homeland Security is considering privatizing some of the cargo security duties currently handled by U.S. Customs and Border Services.

As part of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, participating companies wanting to ship cargo to the U.S. are required to submit security programs for inspection and validation by the Department of Homeland Security.

But Jayson Ahern, assistant commissioner of field operations for the customs agency, told the House Homeland Security Economic Security Subcommittee the government does not have enough inspectors to handle the validation of the security plans submitted for approval by container shipping companies.

Testifying before the committee on Thursday, March 16, Ahern said that, while the agency plans to hire 40 more inspectors in the next 45 days, it is still not close to the number it needs.

According to United Press International, Ahern stated that the agency is considering using private firms to validate the security plans from companies that work out of countries with a low risk of terrorism.

Ahern said that, since the inception of the program in 2002, 10,000 companies have submitted security plans, and only 1,545 have had their plans validated.

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