U.S. Customs has introduced the Sea Cargo Targeting Initiative, an automated system to identify high-risk cargo moving to U.S. ports and to establish new policies for dealing with those shipments.
Customs said the initiative will produce more thorough examinations of high-risk cargo.
"The aim of this new initiative is to improve the way we address high-risk cargo," said Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner. "The challenge we face is constantly changing, and our policies will evolve accordingly. This initiative will better protect Americans and seaports, and it will introduce greater uniformity, predictability and efficiency to global commerce."
The initiative contains three major components:
-Adding new criteria to Customs' automated systems to reflect the latest information about possible terrorist activity
- Ensuring that all manifests are processed through the Automated Targeting System and reviewed by trained personnel
- Standardizing procedures that Customs uses when the system identifies a high-risk shipment
Customs said all high-risk sea containers will be examined by non-intrusive inspection technology such as gamma-ray scanning, radiation detection and checking of container seals and the containers themselves.
The Sea Cargo Targeting Initiative is designed to complement other Customs efforts such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the Container Security Initiative, which among other things allows Customs agents to be stationed at overseas ports. Bonner said those programs and the Automated Commercial Environment, the Customs computer system under development "are designed to create a formidable triad in the war against terrorism."