Security cost is the legacy of September 11
The world’s supply chains are safer than they were before the 9/11 attacks, but it hasn’t come cheap.
On a bright September morning in New York 10 years ago, transportation’s age of innocence came to a crashing end. From that point on, the efficient transport of passengers and cargo from country to country vanished, replaced by costly and cumbersome security systems that continue to frustrate.
It was not only aviation that suffered. In ocean shipping, an array of container security measures and shipper assessment initiatives were introduced to prevent potential “bomb in a box” attacks.
There is no doubt that the shipping of freight by sea and air is safer now than before 9/11, but that security has come at tremendous cost to the transport industry.
Much of that cost was initially a result of the lack of collaboration between US security agencies and industry bodies on the shape and direction of security initiatives. This led to an uninformed US Congress pushing security goals that were unattainable or prohibitively costly.
Security measures cost airlines US7.4 billion in 2010, according to The International Air Transport Association, which last week reiterated its position that aviation security was a national issue and the tab to secure cargo and passengers should be picked up by governments.
The security tab in the maritime sector did not come out of petty cash, either. To implement security legislation, America's ports and terminal operators invested billions of dollars into security personnel and training, enhancing perimeter security, access control and technology, and upgrading waterside security by adding patrol boats, vessel tracking and underwater threat detection systems.
Since 9/11, the US has implemented the Container Security Initiative to examine high-risk, US-bound containerised cargo at foreign ports; the 24-Hour rule, which requires cargo manifests be submitted a least a day ahead of ship arrivals; C-TPAT which provides expedited inspections for US importers that voluntarily work with Customs and Border Protection to improve baseline security standards for supply chain and container security; and large-scale X-ray, gamma ray and radiation detection devices at US ports to scan the contents of inbound cargo containers.
However, austerity measures have seen a cut in port funding that will make it difficult for US ports to meet the requirements of security legislation.
And just to complicate everything, there are a dizzying number of agencies and departments involved in securing the US with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the top. Then there is the US Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Domestic Nuclear Protection Office.
As the US remembers that awful morning 10 years ago, Homeland Security needs to ignore the election rhetoric of politicians and continue to collaborate with the transport industry to refine a risk-based approach to securing the country’s borders.
With a recession looming, the last thing the US needs is for security to come at the expense of trade.