Ridge lays out homeland priorities
The Department of Homeland Security, which is set to mark its one-year anniversary since the massive merger of 22 U.S. agencies into one department March 1, 2003, laid out Monday a series of performance benchmarks it said it expects to meet during the next year.
According to a new strategic plan, the department will significantly expand several programs designed to protect international trade lanes from terrorists.
The Container Security Initiative, in which U.S. inspectors are based overseas to help identify high-risk containers for screening, will be expanded to 14 additional foreign ports, bringing the total number of active CSI ports to 31. About five to six checkpoints will be added on each border with Mexico and Canada that can electronically pre-clear trucks, bringing to 18 the total number of crossings under the Free and Secure Trade program.
The department also said it would continue working on developing the capability to detect the presence of nuclear materials in shipping containers and vehicles by identifying the chemical composition of products. American Shipper recently reported that a pilot program to test one of these technologies, the Pulsed Fast Neutron Analysis system, is being set up in El Paso, Texas (December American Shipper, page 48).
In a speech at George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute, Secretary Tom Ridge said, “A year from now, I invite you to come back, grade us — see if performance met the goals — and know that, over the course of the next calendar year, we will be giving these goals everything we have.”