Customs True Societal Protection Performance index

Effective and efficient border management brings wide benefits for international trade as well as for border control agencies – this has been discussed in multiple CBRA Blogs and Interviews in the past. Benefits like increased speed, cost-efficiency, and time-certainty of cross-border logistics can be and already are measured by trading companies and in some cases by border control agencies. Customs and other border agencies also measure performance of border management, by computing values for labour productivity, hit-rates, and other operational metrics. So far, however, there have been very limited efforts to capture the overall performance of border management, under a single metric, which would help governmental decision-makers to better target budgets, and to justify future border management investments.

This Blog introduces a new comprehensive metric for measuring holistic impacts of border management. This model, developed by Cross-border Research Association, has been created as part of the FP7-project CORE, in cooperation with several customs experts. The proposed index, Customs True Societal Protection Performance (CTSPP), measures effectiveness and efficiency of customs controls at borders, and it can be used to estimate overall protection benefit that custom bring for the society. The formula for computing value for the index is the following:

The figure below illustrates computations with sample numeric values. Say that 2 million sea containers enter country-Z every year. Let us assume that customs choose 8% of this container traffic for inspection, based on risk assessment customs do based on Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) and other available information for each container. Because customs officers find something illegal in 22,400 of the inspected containers, the hit rate of targeted inspections is 14%. Besides targeted inspections, customs officers also select 2% of all containers to inspection randomly, and hit-rate of random inspections is 4% (= 1,600 containers). Because 4% of randomly inspected containers contain something illegal, we can infer that around 4% of all containers (= 80,000) are illegal, as well. Now we can deduce that share of detected illegal containers (22,400 + 1,600 = 24,000) of all illegal containers (80,000) is 30%. This means that because customs catches three of every ten illegal containers, the Customs True Societal Protection Performance index is 30%.

Customs True Societal Protection Performance index is under further development: CBRA research team refines this preliminary model with feedback from the European customs community. Future model’s editions are going to distinguish between different threats (e.g., counterfeiting, fiscal fraud, and security) and between various inspection methods (e.g., X-ray, detection dogs, physical inspection, and document review). The model might also incorporate inspection activities of border control agencies other than customs (e.g., health authorities and phytosanitary inspectors), after all, border control is a shared responsibility, combining the results of other agencies, towards a more complete view. The future versions could also make the model sensitive to inspection costs as well as to “value of societal protection”. In addition, the model could cover other cargo than containerized shipments in the future.

Please contact us if you want to contribute to the future development of this important model, or, if you have access to the detailed data, useable for the model.


CBRA Blog on 24.2.2017, by Dr. Hintsa and Dr. Männistö