Approximately 95 percent of U.S. trade enters or leaves through the nation’s 361 seaports. Despite renewed attention on ports, security efforts continue to fall short of stated government goals. For example, while Customs and Border Protection had hoped to validate security procedures of 98 percent of companies applying to be members of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), the target was dropped to 90 percent.
Cargo inspections have also fallen short. Speaking before the American Association of Port Authorities, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, noted that “the Government Accountability Office reported earlier this year that only 17.5 percent of the high-risk cargo identified by Customs and Border Protection was inspected overseas under [the Container Security Initiative]. The rest, despite being targeted for inspection, was simply loaded on cargo ships and sent to our shores.”
To address the problem, Collins has introduced The Greenlane Maritime Cargo Security Act, which would “clarify the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of government agencies at all levels and of private sector stakeholders.” Most importantly, “it would establish mandatory, baseline security standards and provide incentives for additional voluntary measures…. [And] it would set clear timelines to ensure steady progress.”