CBP receives more resources to protect borders
The pipeline to fund U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened up on Monday when President Bush signed the $28.9 billion fiscal 2005 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security.
The amount is $1.8 billion more than the fiscal 2004 enacted level and reflects discretionary spending. Earmarked funds put the total budget at $40.7 billion.
CBP accounts for about 20 percent of DHS’ budget. CBP will have $6.3 billion to spend, $1 billion of which is in the form of customs user fees redirected to the agency to support operations. Spending on cargo security will total nearly $2.9 billion, an 80 percent increase over pre-Sept. 11 levels, according to the White House.
The budget provides money for technology and programs to facilitate trade and protect the nation’s borders. The Container Security Initiative, which stations officers in overseas ports to help target suspicious containers for advance inspections, received $126 million in funding, up $25 million from 2004. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, which promises reduced cargo and trade compliance exams for companies that follow best practices for supply chain security, received $37.8 million, up 67 percent from the $22.6 million level in 2004.
Included in the CBP budget is $180 million for additional detection technologies, including $50 million for radiation portal monitors, $30 million for x-ray type container scanning machines or radiation portal monitors and $20.6 million to enhance the Automated Targeting System, which filters commercial shipping information to identify anomalies and alert inspectors which boxes to examine.
The agency has deployed more than 270 drive-by radiation portal monitors, as well as about 400 isotope identifiers to distinguish between benign products with a radiation signature, such as thorium-emitting ceramic tiles, and highly enriched uranium used for nuclear devices. At a cost of about $400,000 per machine, CBP could install between 125 and 200 new portal monitors. Additional funding will be needed in 2006 and possibly 2007 to achieve the department’s goal to scan 100 percent of inbound containers for radiation, according to CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner.
Funding to develop the Automated Commercial Environment computer system stayed flat at $305 million, but increased to $16 million from $11 million for the related International Trade Data System, designed to interface with other government agencies that collect international trade data and serve as a single window for importers and exporters to submit data to multiple agencies.
The COAC federal advisory group has expressed frustration at the slow pace of other agencies in readying their software systems to connect with ITDS and urged the president to mandate their participation. Other agencies need to have funding in their own budgets for the software to plug into ITDS.
“It’s absolutely essential we get other agencies … to participate in ACE through ITDS,” Bonner said in meeting with a handful of reporters in his office to discuss the budget.