Coalition, Senate Work to Strengthen Supply Chain Security

Supply Chain Security Coalition urges Senate to build upon multi-layered, risk-based approach when considering port security legislation

Arlington, VA July 28, 2006 In a letter to Senate leadership, the Supply Chain Security Coalition has outlined priorities it recommended the Senate consider as it begins debate on legislation to enhance cargo and port security. The Coalition represents some of the largest and most knowledgeable stakeholders in the supply chain system, including the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

The upcoming Senate debate follows passage in May of cargo and port security legislation, the SAFE Ports Act (H.R. 4954), by the House of Representatives by a vote of 421-2.

"RILA and other Coalition members took an active role in advocating for the final House bill that we believe reflected an effective and thoughtful approach to supply chain security," explained Allen Thompson, RILA's vice president for supply chain issues.

"RILA and other members of the Coalition wrote to Majority Leader Bill Frist and Minority Leader Harry Reid to emphasize that it is essential that the Senate build on the multi-layered, risk-based approach that the government and private sector have been following since 2001," said Thompson. "Coalition members are fully committed to strengthening security throughout the supply chain, and believe that effective policies can achieve the dual objective of enhancing security while facilitating legitimate global commerce."

In its letter, signed by 27 organizations, the Coalition outlined specific elements that it recommended be included in any legislation, including:

  • Authorizing and fully funding Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorist (C-TPAT) and ensuring Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is equipped to complete validations of certified C-TPAT members;

  • Reauthorizing the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and ensuring that CBP has sufficient resources to analyze data and inspect high-risk containers overseas in partnership with our trading partners;

  • Reauthorizing the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and ensuring that CBP has sufficient resources to analyze data and inspect high-risk containers overseas in partnership with our trading partners;

  • Improving CBP's Automated Targeting System (ATS) by working with private sector stakeholders in identifying what information is needed for security and why;

  • Developing the proposed International Trade Data System (ITDS), which would create a uniform system for the collection and sharing of data;

  • Ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) develops contingency plans to ensure that, in the event of a security incident, the global supply chain remains operational; and,

  • Authorizing pilot projects to test the efficacy of new technologies including container security devices, electronic seals and scanning and screening technologies.

The Coalition also underscored several proposed mandates that it strongly opposed including:

  • Mandating 100 percent radiological or density scanning of cargo containers, an unrealistic mandate that would divert resources from the risk assessment approach that has been followed since 9/11. Instead, Congress should continue to support and enhance existing polities that identify high-risk cargo for further screening and inspection.

  • Mandating specific technologies the Coalition emphasized that there is no technological silver bullet for supply chain security and encouraged appropriate testing of all proposed technology solutions to determine which have the greatest reliability and provide the most beneficial information before being adopted by the government and industry;

  • Regulating C-TPAT the Coalition supports preserving the program's flexibility by keeping the program voluntary; and,

  • Mandating the use of third-party validators for C-TPAT. Instead the Coalition urges that Congress ensure that CPB has appropriate resources to conduct validations themselves.

The Coalition also urged the Senate to re-evaluate how to best direct fees collected from the industry before levying additional port security fees, pointing out that the industry already pays billions of dollars to support the maritime transportation system.

The letter concludes: "The Supply Chain Security Coalition congratulates members of the Senate for taking a strong interest in enhancing supply chain security efforts. We are in agreement that more needs to be done to further enhance the global supply chain, and we stand ready to work with you to develop a strong bi-partisan supply chain security bill."

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is a trade association of the largest and fastest growing companies in the retail industry. Its members include more than 400 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales. RILA members operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers, have facilities in all 50 states, and provide millions of jobs domestically and worldwide.

Additional Articles of Interest

  • For more information on C-TPAT and solutions for supply chain security, see "Building the Secure Supply Chain," the Net Best Thing article in the June/July 2003 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

  • Imminent terrorist attacks or no, your competitive advantage demands that you secure your company's supply chain. Read more in "Supply Chain Security: Is Your Company Complacent or Engaged?," in the February/March 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

  • Supply chain executives are discovering new ways to apply technology and innovative processes to the challenge of managing uncertainty. Read more in "Rethinking Risk," cover story in the August/September 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.