U.S. Customs and Border Protection is beginning to consider possible changes to the minimum security criteria under the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, which has now been in place for more than 15 years. The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee, along with a working group representing various members of the supply chain, is working with CBP in this effort and recently made a number of associated recommendations. Adam Salerno, co-chair of COAC’s Global Supply Chain Subcommittee, said at a recent COAC meeting that the trade community is looking for an appropriate balance between prescriptive language, best practices, and performance-based goals that will allow C-TPAT members to develop compliance measures that best suit them and are scalable to companies of all sizes.

COAC’s recommendations include the following.

- C-TPAT should stay focused on supply chain security and additional minimum security criteria should focus on minimizing risks in the supply chain.

- CBP should give C-TPAT participants 90 days to comment on proposed new MSC and integrate their feedback.

- CBP and COAC should work together to review and update program benefits and establish metrics while finding ways to offset program costs.

- CBP should work with C-TPAT participants to develop a cost/benefit analysis.

- CBP should conduct a pilot test of any new MSC to evaluate their operational feasibility and allow sufficient time for participants to implement them once they are finalized.

- Prior to finalization and implementation of new MSC they should be reviewed in their totality to streamline requirements, remove potential redundancies with existing MSC or any overlap with existing laws and regulations, and focus both CBP and trade resources on areas of highest risk.

- CBP should engage with international trade partners to ensure that updated MSC align with authorized economic operator program standards to meet mutual recognition obligations.

- CBP should provide training and reference materials on the new MSC well in advance of implementation.

- Updated guidance, including a transparent and uniform Tier 3 best practices and validation process, should be developed and issued to C-TPAT partners and CBP.

- CBP should consider expanding C-TPAT participation to currently ineligible entities; e.g., drayage carriers, rail carriers, and warehouses.

COAC envisions a multi-stage process that includes (1) developing the revised MSC, circulating them for review, and refining them; (2) developing an implementation plan that may include training and outreach as well as a pilot program to; and (3) implementing the updated MSC in a staged approach that allows sufficient time for C-TPAT members to become educated on the new criteria, evaluate the requirements, and implement them in their own supply chains.

CBP officials have responded positively to COAC’s recommendations and said CBP is committed to making any changes in partnership with the trade community. Officials have emphasized that any revisions to the MSC must be achievable, affordable, and articulable. One official noted that it could take several years to expand C-TPAT to more domestic entities, but ST&R’s Lenny Feldman responded that doing so should be pursued expeditiously to help combat homegrown extremists and domestic terrorism.

Although CBP continues to consider potential MSC updates within the established working group, general input on this or other C-TPAT issues may be provided to Lenny Feldman, who serves on the group.

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