Annual C-TPAT Conference

by Barry Brandman

Last week I attended the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism annual conference in Anaheim, California. This much anticipated event sold out within hours of being announced on the Customs & Border Protection website.

This annual conference not only provides certified member companies with the opportunity to learn about the state of the program and interact with senior government officials, but also receive a briefing about changes that will be taking place with the C-TPAT program.

The roster of speakers was impressive, and included David Aguilar, the acting Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Bradd Skinner, Director of the C-TPAT program, Kevin Weeks, Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Los Angeles office, as well as Richard Dinucci, CBP’s Director of Cargo Control. Director Skinner discussed an array of topics, including the C-TPAT program’s growth, up 7.8% in 2009 and expected to exceed 10,000 member companies this year.

Conference sessions also featured speakers from the private sector, who provided insight from the industry perspective.

I was asked to give a presentation on “Tools, Technologies and Processes – Innovative Industry Solutions to Security Challenges.” I focused on areas within the foreign supply chain where we have uncovered significant risk and gave specific examples of why many corporate security programs look much better on paper than they actually operate on a day-to-day basis. I also explained several of the most important safeguards of a world class supply chain asset protection program, including how to design state-of-the-art intrusion detection and video systems, as well as how to get the most from GPS tracking technology and cargo security Best Practices.

There is no question that the C-TPAT program has become respected worldwide, with many countries developing their own supply chain security programs modeled on C-TPAT standards. Other countries like Japan, Canada and Jordan have already entered into mutual recognition programs with the United States, which is beneficial for the government as well as the trade community.

I believe that C-TPAT is a critical component of our homeland security efforts. This government–industry cooperative program proves that when these two sectors work together effectively towards a common objective, very significant results can be achieved.