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The first Annual SYNCHRO-NET meeting

The SYNCHRO-NET project had its first annual project meeting in Barcelona in early June. I had a pleasure to take part in the three-day event and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and sunny weather of the Catalonian capital.

For those who are not yet familiar with the project, SYNCHRO-NET is a three-and-half-year demonstration project on advanced logistics optimization. The project seeks to advance and promote new concepts of synchro-modality and slow steaming for more cost-efficient, less congested and greener intermodal supply chains. The project includes three demonstrations that test slow-steaming and synchro-modal solutions in real international logistics networks. The first demonstrator involves shipping of goods from the Far-East to the ports of Valencia, Algeciras and Barcelona, and subsequent movement by rail inland and final short truck movement. The second demonstrator focuses on regional logistics movements through the Port of Cork. The third demonstrator will address multimodal container movements in major European routes. The project is funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme.

During the two first days of the meeting, the Partner Forum discussed the SYNCHRO-NET work ahead: standardization, development of a tool for logistics optimization, real-world demonstrations, and exploitation and dissemination of the project’s results. The discussion produced some interesting findings and conclusions. The Partner Forum observed that, given the large number and variety of factors, the optimization of shipping and logistics in terms of cost (including CAPEX, crew cost, fuel), duration, environmental impact, reliability and various types of risks is nothing but an easy task. For example, weather, tide and state of the sea affect maritime logistics, its speed, reliability and cost-efficiency. There was also a great deal of discussion about the dimensions of risk in the meeting. The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) defines risk as the “effect of uncertainty on objectives.” In this light, the concept of risk in the SYNCHRO-NET context covers at least damage to cargo, lead time variability, variability of cost, and possibility of theft and piracy. The Forum concluded that cost-efficiency and quality of international logistics depend largely on real-time awareness and visibility over logistics operations: “the sooner you know, the lower the cost will be to solve the problem.”

The three days of SYNCHRO-NET meetings culminated in the International Logistics and Material Handling (SIL) conference, the primary annual industry fair and networking event for logistics professionals in Spain. In the conference, Mr. Santiago Blasco (DHL) introduced SYNCHRO-NET at the “Consumer & Goods” working session for a large audience. Later that day, a group of leading logistics experts from Spain and the rest of Europe debated on pressing topics at three SYNCHRO-NET roundtables. The roundtable sessions focused on the general theme “How to build win-win solutions synchro-modal logistics stakeholders.” Here are brief summaries of the roundtable sessions:

  • “Smart Steaming – how to build a win-win solution for all stakeholders.” The members of the roundtable raised concerns about organizational, technical and business challenges of future slow steaming. There are obvious draw-back in slow steaming such as longer lead times and lower capacity utilization. However, the panel concluded that smart rather than slow steaming is here to stay: “While maintaining high service level, we can make logistics more cost-efficient.”
  • ”Effective management of synchro-modal logistics.” The panelists of the second session argued that the concept of synchro-modality is not yet very established in the logistics sector. Even so, the panel agreed that synchro-modality builds on real-time optimization, risk analysis and advanced, ITC-enabled logistics planning. Synchro-modality requires visibility over the supply chain, so that logistics planers react to contingencies and can make effective decisions in real time. The panel concluded that collaboration across supply chain operators – especially among shippers, carriers, freight forwarders – is the key to synchronized international logistics.
  • “Synchro-modal IT tools: innovation and value added to the logistics industry.” The third panel focused on the rather technical topic of leveraging cloud-based IT architecture for advanced logistics planning. The panelists saw a great potential in modern ICT solutions to enable synchro-modality, smart steaming and other ways for optimizing international freight transport. There still remain challenges for bridging a broad array of different computer systems for higher degree of logistics interconnectedness and interoperability.

The SYNCHRO-NET project has had a strong start, and the project progresses on the right track and at the full speed after one year of work. There is still much hard work to do over the next six months, for CBRA and other partners. In autumn, CBRA researchers will be focusing on reviewing policies, legislations, and standards that have an effect on synchro-modality and slow steaming. The CBRA team will also continue promoting the SYNCHRO-NET project and its findings at various events and publications. Stay with SYNCHRO-NET and visit the project website www.synchro-net.org.

CBRA Blog by Dr. Toni Männistö

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Figure 1 Santiago Bosco presenting SYNCHRO-NET at the the International Logistics and Material Handling (SIL) conference

Border Agency Cooperation, Part 2 of 3

Our second blog on Border Agency Cooperation (BAC) focuses on a conceptual model developed by CBRA. We have crafted this “CBRA-BAC15” diagram to visualize a set of key BAC actions and primary beneficiaries, with contributions by Dr. Toni Männistö (supply chain security post-doc researcher at CBRA), Mr. Gerwin Zomer (TNO, technical manager for the FP7-CORE project) and by Ms. Susana Wong Chan (education and training materials developer at CBRA).BAC-1

The diagram is cut to three sectors: on left side, the supply chain companies are the primary beneficiaries of BAC actions; on the right side, the government agencies form the primary beneficiary group; and on the bottom area, both supply chain companies as well as government agencies benefit from BAC actions. Each of these three sectors contains five examples of concrete border agency cooperation actions – 15 in total - explained in a moment by using real examples, whenever available in the literature or by expert suggestions. In the center of the diagram lies a circle with the more generic “smart cross-border improvement actions”, applicable to virtually any work in global trade facilitation.

The diagram should not be considered exhaustive, when it comes to all optional actions to improve BAC in a given country or region or globally. Some of the 15 key actions may be strongly interconnected, or, partially overlapping. Some of them may apply mainly on national multi-agency environment, and some of them mainly on international e.g. customs-to-customs environment. Also, the division of the key actions into the three beneficiary groups can and should be challenged, by the interested audiences. But, let´s start now by listing and illustrating the key 15 BAC actions:

Supply chain companies as the primary beneficiary (left sector in the diagram). The following five BAC actions can bring immediate benefits to the companies operating in supply chains, in terms of saving administrative costs and speeding up the supply chain – less work dealing with various certifications and audit visits, less variation and IT costs with import/export data filing and less waiting times at the borders.

  • Harmonized ´trusted trader´ & other certification programs: In the European Union, the European Commission´s implementing regulation (No. 889/2014) updates the references to the aviation security legislation in force, including recognition of the Known Consignor (KC) status and its relevance to Authorized Economic Operator (AEO), and framing the scope of recognition of the common requirements between the respective programs.
  • Coordinated company visits & audits: Closely linked to the previous BAC-action, in the Netherlands, the Dutch Customs executes joint audits on AEO security (customs) and known consignor/regulated agent (air cargo) with the Dutch Immigration and air-police agency - during the application phase, as well as during periodical audits.
  • Harmonized data filing requirements: Despite a global, harmonized data model, harmonized tariff codes and standards on clearance procedures, there are many differences in operational import, export and transit procedures and information requirements between countries. This results in additional complexity of IT systems for globally operating traders and logistic service providers. An example is the pre-arrival security declarations, where harmonization would be most useful e.g. between the Importer Security Filing, “10+2” in the US and the Entry Summary Declaration in Europe - Multiple Filing, supported by Standard Trader Interface, under development within the Union Customs Code, UCC.
  • Synchronized border interventions & inspections: The Article 4 of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Cross Border Transport Agreement on Facilitation of Border Crossing Formalities calls upon the contracting parties to progressively adopt measures to simplify and expedite border formalities by carrying out joint and simultaneous inspection of goods and people by respective competent authorities of agencies such as customs, immigration, trade, agriculture, and health. It further provides for single-stop inspection and urges the national authorities of adjacent countries to carry out joint and simultaneous inspections.
  • Harmonized operating hours: This applies particularly in the context of two neighboring country customs offices – having same opening hours across the border helps to maximize the daily throughput volumes. As the Article 8 of the World Trade Organization´s Trade Facilitation Agreement puts it, “Each Member shall, to the extent possible and practicable, cooperate on mutually agreed terms with other Members with whom it shares a common border with a view to coordinating procedures at border crossings to facilitate cross-border trade. Such cooperation and coordination may include: … alignment of working days and hours … “. In the ASEAN region, the Article 7 of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit urges the contracting parties to “coordinate working hours of the adjacent border posts”.

Government agencies themselves as the primary beneficiary (right sector in the diagram). The following five BAC actions can provide instant benefits for the cooperating government agencies, in terms of cost savings and improved efficiency – in other words, identifying more violations and catching more bad guys with less total spending.

  • Sharing of agency intelligence, information & data: Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAAS), signed bilaterally by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and eight counterparties during years 1979-2010 (European Community, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, South Korea and the United States) provide Canada with a legal basis to share customs information to prevent, investigate and combat customs offences, particularly customs fraud, and to provide reciprocal mutual assistance to ensure the proper application of customs laws. Under CMAAs Canada may share customs information pertaining to: persons, goods and means of transport; activities planned, on-going, or completed, that constitute or appear to constitute a customs offence in the territory of the country requesting the data; proven law enforcement techniques; new and emerging trends, means or methods of committing customs offences; and facilitation of risk assessment activities, within the mandate and authority of the CBSA.
  • Joint investments in common resource pools (equipment, facilities etc.): In Finland the Customs Administration and the Border Guard share common premises and equipment. Each authority has a designated role in the servicing and maintenance of the equipment. X-ray machines are largely the responsibility of Customs. Road-testing equipment, such as lorry brake-testing pads, is also maintained by Customs. All equipment can be shared and operated by each agency upon request. Thus, although the equipment belongs to one agency, it can be easily relocated to the other agency, enabling smoother processing of the workflow without unnecessary and lengthy administrative procedures, thereby reducing costs.
  • Joint teams: In the Netherlands, “HARC” - Hit and Run Cargo Rotterdam team, is a joint operation of Dutch Maritime Police, Dutch Customs, the Fiscal and Economic Crime Agency and the Ministry of Justice collaborating operationally in narcotics enforcement. Joint teams differ from Joint operations below by being a long-term / permanent set-up; while Joint operations “come and go”.
  • Joint operations: A joint operation Meerkat, (23-27 July 2012) involving the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL against the illicit trafficking of cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol in East and Southern Africa, resulted in the seizure of tons of illicitly traded products in seven countries. Operation Meerkat saw Customs and police authorities carry out some 40 raids at seaports, inland border crossing points, markets and shops in Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. More than 32 million cigarettes – equivalent to 1.6 million packets, 134 tons of raw tobacco and almost 3,000 liters of alcohol were seized, resulting in national authorities initiating a number of administrative investigations into tax evasion and other potential criminal offences.
  • Collaborative criminal investigations & prosecutions: In the United States the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) units gather officers from more than 100 different law enforcement agencies under one roof. The objective is to identify, investigate, disrupt and dismantle transnational organizations posing the greatest threat to border security, public safety and national security, by employing the full range of federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement resources. Over the years, the BEST has become a successful interagency law enforcement collaboration model that’s keeping the US safer.

Both supply chain companies as well as government agencies as beneficiaries (bottom sector). The five BAC actions can bring instant benefits to all parties in cross-border supply chains, in terms of lowering costs and improving performance, from supply chain company and from governmental agency perspectives.

  • ‘Single window’ -type import/ export/ transit data submissions: In the Netherlands, the authorities have designed Digipoort, the government’s ‘electronic post office’ for businesses. It provides the communication infrastructure for the exchange of digital information between companies and government authorities. Digipoort enables companies to submit import and export information at a single entry point aimed at multiple government authorities.
  • Common risk indicators, risk profiles & targeting systems: In Finland, common databases are linked to the different agencies’ operational and risk management databases, leading to a common approach when a ‘signal’ is recorded. Some control and enforcement officers have access to each other’s systems on a need-to-know basis, with levels of restricted access determined by rank and functional responsibility.
  • Mutual recognition of supply chain inspection procedures & outcomes: As part of the European Union funded research and development project FP7-CORE ( http://www.coreproject.eu/ ), the phytosanitary and customs administrations in Kenya and the Netherlands are working towards mutual recognition of controls carried out by Kenyan authorities, as well as the exploitation of digital phytosanitary certificates and other trade documents, between the two countries. Outside of the research world, mutual recognitions (MR) of customs inspections are being explored in the context of EU MR Agreements, for example with Japan.
  • Cross-training and empowering manpower: In Finland, Customs officers have been trained by the Border Guard to inspect identification documents and visas, among other procedures. Border guards have, in turn, received basic Customs training, which includes the search of vehicles and the recognition of prohibited and restricted goods, such as drugs, alcohol, and counterfeit items.
  • Joint public-private partnership arrangements, training sessions etc.: In 2011 in Hong Kong, the Customs and Excise Department established a Joint Liaison Group with the representatives of shippers, freight forwarders and truck drivers for exchanging operational views and comments on the Road Cargo System “ROCARS”. Moreover, Customs also launched an extensive publicity program and established outreach teams to assist the industry stakeholders to get used to the ROCARS. Following other government departments are listed on the ROCARS web-site http://www.rocars.gov.hk/ : Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Census and Statistics Department, and Transport Department.

Finally, the center circle of the CBRA-BAC15 diagram highlights the basic, classical principles of trade facilitation – naturally in the context of multiple agencies dealing with cross-border regulations, procedures, IT-systems and data requirements:

  • Simplification & Harmonization: agencies work together with the first aim to streamline certification requirements and procedures, to minimize the number of data elements required from traders etc.; and the second aim to unify the rules and requirements facing supply chain companies.
  • Interoperability & Synchronization: agencies invest in improving interoperability between their inspection technologies, IT-systems etc.; they also work together to better synchronize their supervision and control processes, particularly for the benefit of supply chain companies.
  • Transparency & Predictability: agencies keep each other well informed of their current regulations, procedures, operations etc., as well as planned future changes – such proactive approach helps to minimize surprises and related hassles.

This concludes the second of three parts of our Border Agency Cooperation (BAC) blog. In Part 3 – to be published sometime in February – we focus on the overarching institutional arrangements on Border Agency Cooperation, including establishment of single border agencies (e.g. in the US and Australia); creation of one-stop border posts, OSBPs (multiple examples across the world); carrying work permanently on behalf of other agencies etc. We also plan to discuss bit more on the benefits and costs of BAC, as well as the main challenges and obstacles in BAC-projects across the globe. Talk to you again in February, Juha Hintsa.

 

Bibliography / sources for the examples and cases attached to the 15 BAC key actions:

  • Harmonized ´trusted trader´ & other certification programs: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 889/2014 of 14 August 2014 amending Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93, as regards recognition of the common security requirements under the regulated agent and known consignor programme and the Authorised Economic Operator programme.
  • Coordinated company visits & audits: Email exchange with a Dutch Customs expert
  • Harmonized data filing arrangements: Interview with a Dutch supply chain and trade facilitation expert (29 January 2016); and AnNa Master Plan Extended Collaboration Project Book, December 2015. Available for download at: http://www.annamsw.eu/
  • Synchronized border interventions & inspections: Jain, S.R. (2012), “Coordinated Border Management: The Experience of Asia and the Pacific Region”, World Customs Journal, Vol. 6 No.1. (CBM25).
  • Harmonized operating hours: Article 8 (Border Agency Cooperation) of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation of 15 July 2014; and Jain, S.R. (2012), “Coordinated Border Management: The Experience of Asia and the Pacific Region”, World Customs Journal, Vol. 6 No.1.
  • Sharing of agency intelligence, information & data: “Customs Cooperation Case Study for Canada”, paper submitted by Canada (Canada Border Services Agency - CBSA) for the July 2012 WTO Symposium on Trade Facilitation.
  • Joint investments in common resource pools (equipment, facilities etc.): “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Joint teams: “Customs find cocaine buried in cocoa bean shipment”, NL Times 25.5.2015, Available online at: http://www.nltimes.nl/2015/05/25/customs-finds-cocaine-buried-in-cocoa-bean-shipment/ (accessed 28 January 2016).
  • Joint operations: “WCO and INTERPOL joint operation against illicit trafficking in Africa leads to tobacco and alcohol seizures”, WCO Press Release, 27 August 2012. Available online at:   http://www.wcoomd.org/en/media/newsroom/2012/august/operation-meerkat.aspx (accessed 28 January 2016).
  • Collaborative criminal investigations & prosecutions: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76
  • ‘Single window’ –type import/ export/ transit data submissions: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Common risk indicators, risk profiles & targeting systems: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Mutual recognition of supply chain inspection procedures & outcomes: The Consistently Optimised REsilient ecosystem, CORE FP7 project, EU. See online at: http://www.coreproject.eu/ (accessed 28 January 2016).
  • Cross-training and empowering manpower: “Coordinated Border Management”, WCO News, February 2015, No. 76.
  • Joint public-private partnership arrangements, training sessions etc.: “Road Cargo System (ROCARS) (Hong Kong China)”. Available online at: http://www.wcoomd.org/en/topics/wco-implementing-the-wto-atf/atf/border-agency-cooperation.aspx (accessed 28 January 2016).

Border Agency Cooperation, Part 1 of 3

“A beloved child has many names”, goes an old Finnish proverb. This saying applies quite well in the conblog-210116text of ´smart cooperation between multiple agencies when dealing with cross-border supply chains, goods movements and transports´. The World Customs Organization talks about Coordinated Border Management (CBM); the European Union about Integrated Border Management (IBM); the World Bank about Collaborative Border Management (CBM); and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe about Comprehensive Border Management (CBM). Cross-border Research Association is aligning with a fifth term: Border Agency Cooperation (BAC), a term used in the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization. Despite minor differences in scope, priorities, underlying principles and philosophies among these five terms (and possibly even more), one can easily agree that the work carried out under any and all of them aims to coordinate activities across and within various border control agencies, for the benefit of both governmental agencies themselves as well as supply chain companies.

Our first blog on Border Agency Cooperation, BAC, provides an illustrative worst case example on how complex, slow and expensive a cross-border supply chain execution comes when no cooperation takes place between relevant government agencies, neither nationally nor internationally. The illustration is about meat export from Latin America (Country X) to the European Union (Country Y), with maritime transport in reefer containers.

A well-known beef producer in country X– also the first Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) beef producing company in the region - has just signed an annual contract with a beef importer and distributor in country Y. As this is the producer ‘s first export deal to the EU, the producer needs to ensure that all licenses and certificates are up to the EU standard. Organizing health certificates, certificates of origin, sanitary certificates, export licenses – and what have we – takes weeks and weeks of time. There is no communication or procedures in place between the various agencies and officials to facilitate the process, no coordinated company visits or audits, no sharing of information, and no mutual recognition of inspections.

When all documents are finally in place, and regular exports can start, the beef producer and it´s forwarding agent face the burden of filing export data to customs, to sanitary agencies, and to national security agencies – with somewhat similar datasets, but with no single-window filing opportunity. And when export controls and inspections take place – which happens often – there is no synchronization of inspection times between the different agencies. One agency might come to inspect the reefer container on Monday noon, second one on Wednesday morning, and third on Friday afternoon – another week lost in the beef supply chain lead-time.

Once the consignment is happily on board towards the EU, one continues to experience lost BAC opportunities: no data is passed from country X customs or sanitary agencies to their counterparties in country Y, to enable pre-arrival compliance control and risk assessment. In case of criminal suspicions – e.g. when supply chain insiders exploit beef shipments for cocaine smuggling – no intelligence is shared between police and customs, from country X to country Y. The option of joint law enforcement operations between country X and Y police and customs agencies has never been even considered. Even on national level, both in country X and Y, the agencies are not co-operating neither on risk profiling and targeting systems, nor during criminal investigations and prosecutions – what a waste of resources when it comes to catching and convicting the bad guys…

In the meanwhile, some ten days later, the ship arrives at a major sea port in country Y. For the importer, there is no option for single-window data filing; instead, import data must be transferred separately to all different agencies in country Y. As the customs administration in country Y has no Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) in place with country X customs - neither when it comes to AEO certificates nor when it comes to recognizing inspections carried out at export – it treats the import as a “medium to high risk” one, calling for physical inspections. And as the sanitary agency does not share any common resources with the customs administration – particularly no joint inspection facilities and equipment, including x-ray machines - and even the daily opening hours are different from the customs hours, the sanitary agency carries out their own inspections only two days after the customs intervention. And finally, improving the situation does not seem likely, as there are no joint public-private partnerships, and no export/import compliance training sessions or similar in place, neither in country Y nor in country X.

This concludes the first of three parts of our Border Agency Cooperation (BAC) blog. In Part 2 – to be published next week – we will present CBRA´s conceptual model (Hintsa J., Dec.2015) on BAC key actions and beneficiaries: which key actions to take in order to speed up the logistics chain, to save costs with all actors, to increase overall predictability, and to improve government agency performance e.g. in terms of number of seizures and convictions. In the BAC Blog Part 2, we plan to present some preliminary experiences and real-life results from FP7-project CORE. Please stay tuned!

CORE-Observatory

The effect of supply chain security management on security performance in container shipping operations, 2012 (CORE1201)

Summary: The study creates a supply chain security framework that can be adapted on assessing how security management measures affect on safety and customs clearance performance in container shipping firms. Security management interventions are clustered in four categories: facility and cargo management, accident prevention and processing, information management, and partner relationship management. Findings indicated that container shipping firms that mainly focus on facility and cargo management and less on partner relationship management are generally more dissatisfied with their company’s customs clearance performance than companies that prioritize partnerships with governmental and commercial companies. The governmental agencies and commercial actors can employ supply chain security management framework, its attributes and dimensions in order to assess the supply chain security performance of container shipping firms.  The reviewed document is available at: http://dx.doi.org.

Enhancing security through efficiency focus- Insights from a multiple stakeholder pilot implementation (Sternberg et al. 2012)

Summary

Efficiency and security are said to be opposing goals of logistics operations: when security goes up, efficiency decreases, and vice versa. Yet, it is suggested that information technologies could improve efficiency and security simultaneously. Sternberg et al. (2012) investigate this hypothesis: whether and to what extent increased attention to efficiency results in improved security in carrier operations in a seaport context. In a longitudinal case study, they research carrier operations in connection with port terminals carrying out Roll-in Roll-out (RoRo) operations on trailers at the port of Gothenburg. They find that investments in new ICT solutions, in fact, remove some of the barriers to higher efficiency and improve security against cargo theft and terrorism. In particular, they report that ICT investments increased efficiency in terms of reduced waiting times and increased ability to plan port operations (pre-arrival notification) and fast positioning of trailers in a port. The new ICT solutions also increased security in terms of more secure document handling (decreases the risk that sensitive information falls into the hands of criminals), better anomaly detection (helps customs identify trailers that are most likely tampered in-transit) and increased visibility. The abstract is available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

Review by Toni Männistö (CBRA) based on his doctoral thesis.

Estimating the Operational Impact of Container Inspections at International Ports (Bakshi et al. 2011)

Summary

The US government is pushing a new 100 % screening regime for US-bound containers in foreign ports to mitigate the risk of weapons of mass destruction entering US soil. The 100 % regime, however, is a major concern for foreign port operators because the current Container Security Initiative (CSI) regime seems not to be scalable for high inspection rates. The paper of Bakshi et al. (2011) simulate impacts of two container inspection regimes (the CSI and a new one) in terms of port congestion, handling cost and dwell time. To carry out the simulation, the authors use discrete event queuing network simulation with real container movement data from two of the world’s busiest container terminals. The analysis shows that cargo inspections many times disrupt optimized logistics processes at seaports. In particular, inspections extend the transportation leadtime because shipments lose time as they (i) are moved to an inspection site, (ii) queue for inspection to start, (iii) pass inspections themselves. Download the abstract here: http://pubsonline.informs.org.

Review by Toni Männistö (CBRA) based on his doctoral thesis.

MARITIME SECURITY – DHS Progress and Challenges in Key Areas of Port Security, GAO, July 2010 (CORE1064)

Summary: This GAO report analyses the progress the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made in maritime supply chain security over the past five to ten years. The report raises problems that the DHS and its component agencies – the Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – have encountered regarding improvement of risk management, reduction of the vulnerability to threats of small vessels, implementation of security assessment in foreign ports, and the overall progress in supply chain security.  The report states that so far the Coast Guard has carried out risk assessments, but their results do not allow effective comparison and prioritization of risks across ports. The Coast guard has also identified points of vulnerability related to waterside attacks by small vessels, reached out to the general public to encourage recreational sailors to report anomalies, started tracking of small vessel, tested equipment to screen small vessels for nuclear material and conducted security maneuvers such as vessel escorts. Nevertheless, resource constraints and technical problems prevent the Coast Guard to protect the US coastline and maritime infrastructure from small-vessel threats effectively. Moreover, the Coast Guard has been assessing security in foreign ports, but the lack of the agency’s resources and certain countries’ reluctance to collaborate with the US authorities have slowed down the global security assessment. Finally, as for the general supply chain security, the DHS has been running the Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) in foreign ports to test the feasibility of the 100% scanning of US-bound shipping containers with non-intrusive inspection (NII) technologies and radiation detection equipment. The findings of the SFI pilots indicate that the 100% scanning is not a feasible policy because it would disrupt port logistics, damage international trade and raise healthy concerns, among other things. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/assets/660/659087.pdf.

MARITIME SECURITY – Progress Made, but further actions needed to secure the maritime energy supply, GAO, August 2011 (CORE1061)

Summary: The GAO report discusses actions the US Coast Guard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have taken to strengthen security of energy tankers and offshore energy infrastructure – that produces, transports, or receives oil and natural gas – from terrorist attacks. The report’s key recommendation is that the Coast Guard need to assess risks to all offshore facilities in the US territorial waters, to improve emergency response plans in case of oil spills and to design performance measures for emergency response activities. This GAO document focuses on a rather narrow field of critical infrastructure, the US maritime energy infrastructure, which is not in the CORE’s scope. The CORE’s risk cluster might consider useful the description how the Coast Guard has applied its Maritime Security Risk Analysis Model (MSRAM) to determine risk of the US maritime energy infrastructure. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/new.items/d11883t.pdf.

 

PORT SECURITY GRANT PROGRAM, Risk Model, Grant Management, and Effectiveness Measures Could Be Strengthened, GAO, November 2011 (CORE1060)

Summary: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted almost 1.7 billion USD to port security through the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP). The program is administered by a component agency of DHS, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This GAO reports highlights some problems that the grant program has encountered. The first issue is that the risk assessment the FEMA uses to assess risk levels and assign grants to different ports does not take into account how security improvements affect the vulnerability of the ports to terrorist attacks. The report recommends the FEMA to design a vulnerability index that accounts for security improvement and to coordinate with the Coast Guard to get access to the most accurate vulnerability and threat information. The second issue with the grant program is that much of the grant money does not get used and translate into practical port security projects. The GAO report proposes acceleration of the grant granting process with updated administrative procedures and with more administrative staff.  Finally, this GAO report recommends the FEMA to develop performance metrics to assess its administration in relation to the Port Security Grant Program. The contents of this GAO report is not very relevant to CORE because no US seaports are partners in the project. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/assets/590/587142.pdf.

SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY – CBP Needs to Enhance Its Guidance and Oversight of High-Risk Maritime Cargo Shipments, GAO, January 2015 (CORE1059)

Summary: The report reviews the US Customs and Border Protection’s (CPB) approach to risk assessment and targeting of maritime shipping containers. The report’s highlights that CPB does not have clear decision rules and reporting procedures to monitor percentage of containers that the risk assessment system flags high-risk and that get eventually examined. The source of this problem is that the CPB’s officials (targeters) may waive examination of the high-risk containers if the container (i) falls within a predetermined category (standard exception), or (ii) the targeters can articulate why the shipment should not be considered high risk. The targeting units have currently differing definitions of “standard exceptions” and differing views on what constitutes the “articulate reasons.” The GAO report recommends the CPB to clarify, harmonize and enforce the rules and the procedures for waiving the high-risk containers from examination. As for CORE, this report provides a detailed and recent outlook on the US maritime risk assessment and targeting scheme, and this information is going to support work of the CORE’s risk cluster and the demonstrations that involve shipping of sea containers into the US. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/assets/670/668098.pdf.

MARITIME SECURITY – Progress and Challenges with Selected Port Security Programs, GAO, June 2014 (CORE1019)

Summary: The report provides a comprehensive review of progress and challenges of various port security activities and programs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has carried out since 9/11. In essence, the report is a summary and an update of a number of more detailed GAO reports on maritime supply chain security. The report states that needs to strengthen further its efforts on maritime domain awareness through intensified communication among maritime stakeholders. Regarding the US domestic port security, the report recommends DHS to reassess its Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) that allows ports to request funds for security projects and to improve quality of vulnerability assessment in US ports. The report also urges DHS to overcome challenges of risk-based targeting and scanning of US-bound shipping containers.  The findings and recommendations of this report help CORE consortium understand the current state of the US maritime security regime. This understanding benefits particularly the demonstrations of WP9 and WP14. Also educational and training as well as risk clusters of CORE may find the report’s information useful. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/assets/670/663784.pdf.

MARITIME SECURITY – Progress and Challenges in Key DHS Programs to Secure the Maritime Borders, GAO, November 2013 (CORE1018)

Summary: This report is a summary of previous GAO reports on US maritime supply chain security and border controls. The report focuses on progress and challenges in four main areas of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) activity on the maritime security. The report highlights that DHS and its component Coast Guard agency could improve its maritime domain awareness through increased information sharing and more advanced vessel-tracking systems. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in turn could step up its role in securing US-bound container traffic by conducting more frequent risk assessment audits in key foreign ports that ship cargo into the US and by fostering more close relationship with foreign authorities. The GAO report also recommends the Coast Guard to rethink its maritime surveillance, interdiction and security operations because current protection and support is not adequate in high priority locations. The report also calls for more collaboration and coordination among maritime authorities, port operators and ocean carriers. Finally, the report encourages the DHS to develop performance metrics and data collection procedures the agency uses to assess and monitor its maritime security programs and activities. This report gives a recent update on the US maritime security activities that might be helpful for CORE demonstrations and clusters. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/assets/660/659087.pdf.

 

MARITIME SECURITY – Ongoing U.S. Counterpiracy Efforts Would Benefit From Agency Assessments, GAO, June 2014 (CORE1017)

Summary: This GAO report explains how the US government agencies have fought sea piracy around the Horn of Africa and at the Gulf of Guinea since 2010. The report also describes the current state of sea piracy threats in these two areas, and it urges US government agencies to reconsider their resource allocations, strategies and tactics related to the counterpiracy efforts. The report points out that the number of annual piracy incidents at the Gulf of Guinea has surpassed the yearly incidents off the Horn of Africa. This shift in pirate attacks prompt changes in the US counterpiracy operations. However, as the report points out, the US government agencies responsible for the counterpiracy activities have not recently conducted reassessments of their actions, despite the changing conditions. The report therefore recommends the US government agencies to re-evaluate the counterpiracy efforts, especially at the Gulf of Guinea that is becoming the most important hotspot of the international sea piracy. This GAO report provides information about modern sea piracy from which CORE’s maritime demonstrations might benefit. The report is available for download at: www.gao.gov/assets/670/664268.pdf.