AMERICAS: TSA, CBP collaborate on cargo security

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection are collaborating on how the two can better use CBP’s Automated Targeting System to screen international cargo. During November hearings on closing gaps in air cargo security, CBP commissioner Alan Bersin told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that his agency […]


The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection are collaborating on how the two can better use CBP’s Automated Targeting System to screen international cargo. During November hearings on closing gaps in air cargo security, CBP commissioner Alan Bersin told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that his agency is working with TSA and the intelligence community to hone targeting rules for its Automated Targeting System (ATS) to better respond to air cargo threats. “Upon receipt of the advance manifest data, CBP processes the data through its Automated Targeting System (ATS) to identify potential threats related to terrorism, narcotics, hazardous materials, and other CBP focus areas,”he said. “ATS is the primary platform used by DHS to match travelers and goods against screening information, intelligence, and known patterns of illicit activity. The air cargo advance targeting units at the local airports of arrival use ATS to conduct risk assessments, while the National Targeting Centre-Cargo (NTC-C) conducts high-level sweeps for shipments of concern based on intelligence and targeting rules,” he said. “CBP and TSA began exploring the potential effectiveness of utilising CBP’s ATS as a risk targeting tool to leverage data and information already collected in order to meet TSA’s mission to secure international inbound air cargo,”he said. The two agencies have conducted three successful pilot programmes at Washington-Dulles International Airport, Miami International Airport and the National Targeting Centre-Cargo (NTC-C), according to Bersin. Some politicians are also advocating that the CBP’s risk-based screening of maritime cargo be used as a road map for air cargo screening. Bersin said TSA and CBP are looking into stretching shippers’advance submission of manifests for air cargo to DHS to eight or 24 hours – similar to maritime cargo’s existing notification requirements – from the current four hour notice before an aircraft’s arrival in the US.