NCBFAA Weighs In On Aviation Cargo Security at Congressional Hearings
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|For Immediate Release
Washington DC: In testimony today before the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection, National Customs Broker and Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA), Task Force on Security Chair, Cindy Allen, said “we strongly support the TSA’s [Transportation Security Administration] Certified Cargo Screening Program [CCSP] and want to do our part in ensuring its success.”
She noted that the CCSP is “a sensible way to manage security for the huge volumes of air cargo that inundate airports every day.” By relying on Indirect Air Carriers (IACs), CCSP users regulated entities whose personnel and facilities are thoroughly vetted by TSA and that must meet chain-of-custody standards in delivering screened merchandise to the air carrier.
However, she noted that questions of cost and competitive disadvantage remain unanswered. “We estimate that outlays will require between $150,000 to $500,000 or more per facility,” Ms. Allen said. “It is unrealistic to assume that a typical IAC can afford this equipment for use in his own company, just as we understand it may be difficult for some of the larger participating companies to do so.”
TSA’s policy of providing capital funding for the CCSP pilot participants by subsidizing and underwriting a major portion of those mostly large and established companies’ overhead, leaves other non-pilot firms at a competitive financial disadvantage. “There appears to be no funding within TSA for like treatment for the small and medium sized businesses that will follow these large corporations into the program,” she said.
She called on Congress to authorize and appropriate funding in the FY2010 budget to offset the cost for these small and medium firms to participate in CCSP. In her comments, she suggested establishing one or several centralized locations in a specific geographic area where the community’s IACs can take their cargo for screening, similar to the Centralized Examination Sites (CES) that have been available nationwide for over 15 years.
“In all events, however, the cost must be low enough to enable small and medium sized companies to compete against those who have a built-in advantage by virtue of the TSA pilot,” she said.
“We support Congress’ mandate and we support the Transportation Security Administration’s Certified Cargo Screening Program,” Ms. Allen said in conclusion. “Adjustments however need to be made to ensure that goods flow freely yet securely through the airports and aboard passenger aircraft, while permitting those within our industry to compete for business.”
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA represents nearly 800 member companies with 100,000 employees in international trade - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs), NVOCCs and air cargo agents, serving more than 250,000 importers and exporters. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefing and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.