U.S. looking for security "gold standard"

U.S. looking for security "gold standard"

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security wants to establish a "gold standard" for supply-chain security that combines regulation and voluntary cooperation between government and business, said Elaine Dezenski, director of cargo and trade policy for DHS' border and transportation directorate.

Dezenski did not offer details, but said the criteria would comprise security measures enforced through DHS regulations, and cooperative programs like the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. Combined, they would allow commerce to resume after a terrorist attack.

"We need enough confidence in procedures to allow trade to flow as quickly as possible after an event," Dezenski said. She spoke July 23 to the Transportation Table at the National Press Club. The meeting is sponsored by The Journal of Commerce and Traffic World magazines.

The government's primary decision in supply-chain security is whether or not to admit a shipment into the U.S., Dezenski said. All other elements of a layered security program should support that decision.

"The more information we have from a government and private perspective to make the decision about the legitimacy of the cargo, and the quicker we can make it, the better off we're going to be," she said.

Critics have questioned C-TPAT's effectiveness because it relies on voluntary cooperation, rather than setting enforceable standards.

"There's been a lot of discussion if a voluntary approach is the right thing to do," she said. "This is exactly the thing to do. It gives us a flexible test bed, to work with pieces of the supply chain that we would otherwise not be able to get to. We can't do everything by regulation."

She said the combination of regulation and incentives that encourage companies to improve security are at the heart of the department's decision making.

Dezenski also said that results from programs like Operation Safe Commerce help the department focus its resources. OSC participants are soon to be filing reports with the Transportation Security Administration.

OSC has found that drayage movements are among the most vulnerable in supply chains. Those movements need better tracking and visibility, she said.