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December 02, 2009 

DHS Secretary Napolitano Tells Senate Committee That More Time and Money Needed to Achieve 100% Cargo Screening

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a full committee hearing today entitled "Transportation Security Challenges Post-9/11" featuring Janet Napolitano Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In her testimony Secretary Napolitano indicated that DHS will need additional time to meet the 2012 deadline for 100% scanning of inbound containerized maritime cargo as required by the SAFE Port Act of 2006.  Specifically, Secretary Napolitano said:

. . . in order to implement the 100% scanning requirement by the 2012 deadline, DHS would need significant resources for greater manpower and technology, technologies that do not currently exist, and the redesign of many ports. These are all prohibitive challenges that will require the Department to seek the time extensions authorized by law.
Secretary Napolitano noted that "while DHS is pursuing technological solutions to these problems, expanding screening with available technology would slow the flow of commerce and drive up costs to consumers without bringing significant security benefits."  With respect to costs, the Secretary noted that:
the costs of 100% scanning pose a great challenge, particularly in a struggling economy. Deploying SFI-type scanning equipment would cost about $8 million per lane for the more than 2,100 shipping lanes at more than 700 ports around the world that ship to the United States. On top of these initial costs, operating costs would be very high. These include only DHS expenses, not the huge costs that would have to be borne by foreign governments or industry. It is also important to keep in mind that about 86% of the cargo shipped to the United States is sent from only 58 of those more than 700 ports. Installing equipment and placing personnel at all of these ports – even the tiny ones – would strain government resources without a guarantee of
results. 
With respect to 10+2, Secretary Napolitano noted that "progress on 10+2 has been very positive" and "industry participation has been very strong" and DHS has "already received more than 2.8 million filings representing more than 90,000 importers." She also noted that DHS anticipates moving forward with a final 10+2 rule "soon".

Secretary Napolitano also touched on a wide range of other maritime, aviation and surface transportation security issues in her extensive testimony that can be found here (pdf).

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