The investigative arm of Congress wants the Department of Homeland of Security to determine the costs and benefits of requiring all-cargo air carriers to report screening data for U.S.-bound freight, a move that could raise costs for shippers.
Despite handling the majority of U.S.-bound freight, all-cargo air carriers don’t have to report the same amount of screening data as their passenger airline counterparts, according to a Government Accountability Office report released in May. The report also highlighted screening issues on the passenger airline side, noting Transportation Security Administration officials said it is difficult to “verify the accuracy of the self-reported screening data” conducted in foreign countries provided by passenger carriers.
The TSA has not “weighed the costs and benefits of requiring all-cargo carriers to submit screening data,” so it’s not possible to determine if additional data could improve security, according to the GAO report. The release of the report comes as the TSA prepares to begin screening all cargo arriving from international passenger flights on Dec. 3.
In 2007, a Democratic-controlled Congress gave the TSA until August 2012 to screen all international cargo arriving on passenger flights. After officials in October 2010 intercepted packages from Yemen that contained concealed explosives, Pistole told lawmakers international supply chains would be secure by the end of 2011, but international security has been much more difficult to achieve.
Internationally, the TSA is working to synchronize its security requirements with those of other nations through a series of mutual recognition agreements. At home, the agency is working closely with Customs and Border Protection to adopt risk-based screening techniques to air cargo.