SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY – DHS Could Improve Cargo Security by Periodically Assessing Risks from Foreign Ports, GAO, September 2013 (CORE1007)

Summary: This GAO report reviews maritime supply chain security programs that the Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies – mainly the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Coast Guard – have implemented since 2001. The report examines (1) the extent to which DHS has assessed risk levels of foreign ports and allocated security resources accordingly and (2) activities DHS has taken to monitor and improve efficiency and effectiveness of its security initiatives. Drawing on numerous interviews of key stakeholders and examination of key documents, the report recommends CBP to consider expansion of its Container Security Initiative (CSI) into new ports based on a periodic risk assessment of foreign ports. The report also highlights opportunities for further harmonization of the US maritime security initiatives with their foreign counterparts through mutual recognition agreements. Since this report contains fundamental information about the US maritime security programs, many CORE work packages are likely to benefit from the insights this report provides. Especially, the demonstrations, which involve ocean shipping, as well as the risk cluster, can use this information to support and guide their work. The document is available for download at: (accessed 13.3.2016)

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Full review: The report provides a comprehensive outlook on the US maritime supply chain security initiatives that the DHS and its component agencies – mainly CBP and Coast Guard – have implemented since 2001. The report features some interesting figures that map the security initiatives on the global supply chain and that illustrate current solutions the US government employs to screen and examine US-bound shipping containers. The CORE’s demonstrations that involve maritime shipping are likely to benefit from the information this report provides. Also the risk cluster can use the information, and especially the mapping of the US maritime security initiatives over the global supply chain, to design risk-based, layered approaches to maritime supply chain security. The education cluster can also reuse the contents of this report to produce relevant and informative training material for various supply chain stakeholders that are involved in the seaborne trade and logistics.


  • Maritime Security: Progress and Challenges 10 Years after the Maritime Transportation Security Act. GAO-12-1009T. Washington, D.C.: September 11, 2012.
  • Supply Chain Security: Container Security Programs Have Matured, but Uncertainty Persists over the Future of 100 Percent Scanning. GAO-12-422T. Washington, D.C.: February 7, 2012.
  • Homeland Security: DHS Could Strengthen Acquisitions and Development of New Technologies. GAO-11-829T. Washington, D.C.: July 15, 2011.
  • Maritime Security: Responses to Questions for the Record. GAO-11-140R. Washington, D.C.: October 22, 2010.
  • Supply Chain Security: DHS Should Test and Evaluate Container Security Technologies Consistent with All Identified Operational Scenarios to Ensure the Technologies Will Function as Intended. GAO-10-887. Washington, D.C.: September 29, 2010.
  • Supply Chain Security: CBP Has Made Progress in Assisting the Trade Industry in Implementing the New Importer Security Filing Requirements, but Some Challenges Remain. GAO-10-841. Washington, D.C.: September 10, 2010.

Additional keywords: Mutual recognition, Customs-trade partnership against Terrorism (C-TPAT), Container Security Initiative (CSI), maritime security, counter-terrorism



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