TITLE

Homeland Security: Preliminary Observations on Efforts to Target Security Inspections of Cargo Containers: GAO-04-325T

PUB. DATE
December 2003
SOURCE
GAO Reports;12/16/2003, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Government Document
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, concerns intensified that terrorists would attempt to smuggle a weapon of mass destruction into the United States. One possible method for terrorists to smuggle such a weapon is to use one of the 7 million cargo containers that arrive at our nation's seaports each year. The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for addressing the potential threat posed by the movement of oceangoing cargo containers. Since CBP cannot inspect all arriving cargo containers, it uses a targeting strategy, which includes an automated targeting system. This system targets some containers for inspection based on a perceived level of risk. In this testimony, GAO provides preliminary findings on its assessment of (1) whether CBP's development of its targeting strategy is consistent with recognized key risk management and computer modeling practices and (2) how well the targeting strategy has been implemented at selected seaports around the country. CBP has taken steps to address the terrorism risks posed by oceangoing cargo containers. These include establishing a National Targeting Center, refining its automated targeting system, instituting a national training program for its personnel that perform targeting, and promulgating regulations to improve the quality and timeliness of data on cargo containers. However, while CBP's strategy incorporates some elements of risk management, it does not include other key elements, such as a comprehensive set of criticality, vulnerability and risk assessments that experts told GAO are necessary to determine risk and the types of responses necessary to mitigate that risk. Also, CBP's targeting system does not include a number of recognized modeling practices, such as subjecting the system to peer review, testing and validation. By incorporating the missing elements of a risk management framework and following certain recognized modeling practices, CBP will be in a better position to protect against terrorist attempts to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the United States. CBP faces a number of challenges at the six ports we visited. CBP does not have a national system for reporting and analyzing inspection statistics and the data provided to us by ports were generally not available by risk level, were not uniformly reported, were difficult to interpret, and were incomplete. CBP officials told us they have just implemented a new module for their targeting system, but it is too soon to tell whether it will provide consistent, complete inspection data for analyzing and improving the targeting strategy. In addition, CBP staff that received the national targeting training were not tested or certified to ensure that they had learned the basic skills needed to provide effective targeting. Further, space limitations and safety concerns about inspection equipment constrained the ports in their utilization of screening equipment, which has affected the efficiency of examinations.
ACCESSION #
18210346

 

Related Articles

  • After 9/11. Carlson, Joseph L. // Library Journal;5/15/2003 Supplement, Vol. 128 Issue 9, p16 

    Even after the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, most Americans felt safe, insulated from the resentments of people far away and the dangers they might pose. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 changed way Americans think about national security...

  • Combating Terrorism: Considerations for Investing Resources in Chemical and Biological Preparedness: GAO-02-162T. Hinton Jr., Henry L. // GAO Reports;10/17/2001, p1 

    Since the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the terrorist threat has risen to the top of the national agenda. Preparing for all possible contingencies is impractical, so a risk management approach should be used. This would include a threat assessment to determine which...

  • WHO SHOULD DEAL WITH FOREIGN TERRORISTS ON U.S. SOIL?: SOCIO-LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF SEPTEMBER 11 AND THE ONGOING THREAT OF TERRORIST ATTACKS IN AMERICA. Klinger, David A.; Grossman, Dave // Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy;Spring2002, Vol. 25 Issue 2, p815 

    Assesses the social and legal issues of terrorism in relation to the September 11, 2001 U.S. terrorist attack. Evaluation of police power and creation of military tribunals in preparation for national security; International law on the sale of military weapons; Regulation on foreign terrorism.

  • introduction. Labov, Steven L. // Department of Homeland Security;2003, p7 

    Comments on the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Key role of the 'Rescue and Prevention: Defending Our Nation' books in educating the public on the role of government agencies in the protection of homeland security; Globalized nature of terrorism.

  • Progress Is Made Overseas, But Steps Are Slow At Home. Ichniowski, Tom; Wright, Andrew G. // ENR: Engineering News-Record;3/10/2003, Vol. 250 Issue 9, Protecting America:... p4 

    Reports on the slow progress made by the U.S. on the war against terrorism to provide homeland security after the September 11, 2001 attack. Capture of terrorist Khalid Shaikh Mohammad in Pakistan; Economic conditions of U.S. after the attack; Emphasis given to transportation security in the...

  • IVORY TOWERS UNDER SIEGE. Wall, Robert // Aviation Week & Space Technology;9/12/2005, Vol. 163 Issue 10, Special section p13 

    This article reports that according to those in academia, the Pentagon is pushing changes to current rules that may take effect soon, and the restrictions could have far-reaching consequences for scientific research. Academic researchers have long argued that government measures that hamper...

  • Don't sell to Saudis. Williams, Armstrong // New York Amsterdam News;8/9/2007, Vol. 98 Issue 33, p13 

    The article presents the author's views on a weapon deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. According to the author, the U.S. government headed by President George W. Bush had taken a very unwise decision by entering a deal to sell weapons worth $20 to the Saudis. In his view the U.S. should...

  • Homeland Security: Applying Risk Management Principles to Guide Federal Investments: GAO-07-386T. Jenkins Jr., William O. // GAO Reports;2/7/2007, p1 

    Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the federal government has provided DHS with more than $130 billion in budget authority to make investments in homeland security. However, as GAO has reported, this...

  • Rethinking the Unthinkable. Starr, Paul // American Prospect;4/8/2002, Vol. 13 Issue 7, p2 

    Comments on the anxiety about terrorism among people in the U.S. Speculations on the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists; Impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the threat of terrorism; Steps that should be taken by the U.S. government in line with the risk...

Share

Read the Article

Other Topics