FBI seeking public comment on cargo theft reporting procedure

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 8/2/2016

Public comments are being sought on a proposal by the nation’s top law enforcement agency to extend the use of its cargo theft incident report.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to continue its current electronic cargo theft collection protocol. According to a notice published July 20 on The Federal Register, the agency has requested an extension for public comments until Sept. 19.

Under the current proposal, law enforcement agencies submit cargo theft data to the FBI in three ways: via an electronic Cargo Theft Incident Form spreadsheet; the Cargo Theft Technical Specifications; or the National Incident-Based Reporting System.

A spokesman with the FBI said the notice allows the public the opportunity to provide comments on how data collection could be improved. The notice states that comments should address one or more of the following four points: 

  • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques of other forms of information technology – e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

The notice states that “approximately 18,439 law enforcement agency respondents submit monthly for a total of 221,268 responses with an estimated response time of five minutes per response.”

Doug Morris, OOIDA director of security operations, said the FBI’s move to allow electronic submission of cargo theft reports is a good thing. He said some jurisdictions have complained that providing information is labor-intensive and time-consuming, and should be automated.

“For those reasons, many jurisdictions do not provide the information; hence, the FBI is not getting a true reflection of cargo theft trends,” Morris said. “By providing an easier method of reporting, this information may lead to additional participating agencies.”

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