Canadian and U.S. truckers have complained about punitive measures following C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) security breaches, and the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to make suspension or removal from the program not immediate.
The department has also published a document outlining the measures it will take when security breaches occur.
Carriers had been concerned about the lack of transparency involved in security-based decisions by DHS. As a carrier, being removed from C-TPAT’s trusted trader program could be a disaster for its cross-border transportation work.
Among the changes, self-reporting carriers will not be immediately suspended if they notice a security breach, and normal breaches will trigger a review before any actions are taken against the carriers. When carriers are suspended, the letter DHS sends out notifying customers will “clearly articulate the reasons for the suspension and include requirements the partner must meet to be reinstated,” according to a release.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance has trumpeted this more transparent approach by DHS, calling the document “a significant step forward.” The association’s main concern had to do with carriers being suspended from the program for minor or infrequent infractions.
“The presumption that one is innocent until proven guilty was a major concern to us,” David Bradley, president of the alliance, said in a statement. “We’re not talking about situations involving serious security breaches, or protecting companies that are not living up to their security commitments, but the kinds of things that happen on any given day to any good company.”
When a company is immediately removed from the C-TPAT program pending an investigation, even if DHS reinstates the carrier down the road, damage has already been done to the firm’s credibility, Bradley said. Customers may be lost because of a simple mistake by the carrier.
“Canadian carriers have embraced the C-TPAT program from the beginning, and make no mistake, carriers’ security obligations have not been weakened. Those who breach their obligations will have to account to DHS,” Bradley said. “But at the same time, the document demonstrates a clear commitment to partnership — the foundation on which the program is built — which sometimes seemed to be lacking in the past.” - Jon Ross