TSA institutionalizes cargo screening program
The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday issued rules that move the Certified Cargo Screening Program from pilot phase to permanent status.
The CCSP is a voluntary approach to air cargo screening under which shippers and logistics companies are encouraged to conduct cargo screening of shipments using approved methods prior to arrival at the airport. The program is designed to help meet the congressionally mandated August 2010 deadline to check all cargo carried on passenger planes departing U.S. airports.
Airlines earlier this year began inspecting half of all cargo in the passenger environment, but the agency created the CCSP because it believes airlines are not equipped to inspect the 12 million pounds of air cargo transported on passenger aircraft each day without causing delays in the supply chain.
Early participants in the CCSP program helped the agency meet the 50 percent mandate.
The CCSP pilot program began at more than a dozen high-volume airports. Shippers and logistics companies that screen cargo using approved X-ray or trace detection devices, or physical searches, can ensure that palletized freight is not reopened at the airport as long as they maintain a secure chain of custody from their facility to the airline. Under the rule, each piece in a multipiece shipment must be screened by August 2010.
The interim final rule becomes effective on Nov. 16. At that time, the facilities of freight forwarders and shippers that have been validated through on-site visits will become Certified Cargo Screening Facilities.
Every employee that has access to the secure screening facility must undergo a TSA security threat assessment, or background check. TSA proposes in the interim final rule that companies pay a fee ranging between $13 and $21 to help cover its costs for the personal history checks. It is accepting comments on where to set the fee before issuing a final rule.
The rule also establishes procedures for the use of third-party validation firms to conduct the audits of off-airport screening facilities. The TSA said it will recertify companies in the CCSP program every three years, a schedule that corresponds to the one used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to validate firms in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.