Ocean shipping-Port Security: GAO report provides progress update for CBP’s Import Security Filing

By Jeff Berman · October 14, 2010

A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated that data from the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) subsidiary of the Department of Homeland Security found that as of July 2010 roughly 80 percent of U.S.-bound ocean shipments were Import Security Filing—or 10+2—compliant.

In its most basic form, 10+2 requires importers and carriers to electronically submit additional information on cargo at least 24 hours before ocean freight is loaded onto a vessel bound for the U.S.

This additional information requires importers to provide 10 data elements and vessel carriers to provide 2 data elements on containers and their cargo to CBP, adding to the information available to CBP and improving its ability to identify containers that may pose a risk for terrorism for additional scrutiny like scanning or physical inspection, according to an October 2009 report by the GAO on Supply Chain Security.

According to the most recent GAO report, “CBP has assessed the submitted 10+2 data elements for risk factors…[and] access to information on stow plans has enabled CBP to identify more than 1,000 unmanifested containers—containers that are inherently high risk because their contents are not listed on a ship’s manifest.”

ISF went live last January, following a January 2009 interim final rule, which included a delayed enforcement date (of January 26, 2010) 12 months after the interim final rule took effect. During this one-year period, CBP said it would “show restraint in enforcing the rule…and take into account difficulties that importers may face in complying with the rule as long as importers are making a good faith effort and satisfactory progress toward compliance.”

When the delayed enforcement period since expired, CBP can issue liquidated damages of $5,000 per violation for the submission of an inaccurate, incomplete or untimely filing.

And CBP officials said that if goods for which an ISF has not been filed arrive in the U.S., CBP may withhold the release or transfer of the cargo or refuse to grant a permit to unlade for the merchandise, among other actions.

Albert Saphir, president of international trade consultants ABS Consulting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told LM that the 80 percent figure for ocean import shipments being ISF-compliant 48 hours prior to arrival in the U.S. is surprisingly low.

“80 percent cooperation 48 hours before arrival does not seem to be very compliant at least in my view,” said Sapphire. “But it is light years better than where we were a year ago. As to why there are 15-to-20 percent of shipments with no ISF 48 hours prior to arrival is unclear.”

In most cases, other than short sea shipping, vessels in Asia and Europe to U.S. main trade lanes are on the ocean, on average, at least 10-to-20 days, which is a large time gap two days prior to arrival compared to a day prior to sailing, noted Saphir.

This data also indicates that CBP has not yet updated its automated targeting system to take advantage of the data they are getting from ISF, which may be the reason it has not commenced enforcement, he said. 

In terms of future recommendations, the GAO report recommended that “CBP should, if it updates its regulatory assessment, include information to improve transparency and completeness, and set time frames and milestones for updating its national security criteria.” The GAO added that DHS has said it plans to integrate these updates by November 2010.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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Article Topics

Albert Saphir · GAO · ISF · All Topics
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