Cargo security in the world of supply chains

In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a voluntary cargo security program was established:  The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) Program was established.  CTPAT is an integral component of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) layered enforcement strategy, which takes a risk-based approach to supply chain security.

CTPAT has become one of the largest public-private partnerships to enhance supply chain security in the world, with more than 11,000 members. Current membership is comprised of long-haul Highway Carriers, Exporters, Customs Brokers, Consolidators, Highway Carriers, Importers, Rail Carriers, Air Carriers, Marine Port Authority and Terminal Operators, Sea Carriers, Third-Party Logistics Providers (3PLs), and Foreign Manufacturers.

Once a program like CTPAT is organized and improves over a course of time, it is imperative for organizations to stop and review the program to ensure that it is delivering on its goals and objectives. CBP involved several organizations to take this step and create an assessment that involves industry and government staff involved in the present program and deliver back its findings.  

The assessment had four primary objectives:

Obtain an informational assessment of perceptions of the CTPAT Program

Evaluate the CTPAT Program to identify challenging areas and suggestions for improvement

Identify cost-benefit enhancements for industry members and the CTPAT Program

Establish new or build upon existing Program performance metrics


Benefits to the program have always been a talking point between industry and CBP and the findings provided some interesting information that companies should take notice of.

These include both tangible and intangible benefits.

Interestingly, all Member types realize the following benefits:

Reduced disruptions in supply chain

Potential to be received as “trusted” by foreign customs administrations

Demonstrates good corporate citizenship

Makes the company more competitive

Enhances standards within the industry

Enhances brand reputation

Meets expectations of business partners, whether contractually obligated or not


Several other important items are captured in the report that are worth the time to review such as present-day challenges to the program, the validation process as well as the number of tiers 1, 2 and 3 importers, all of the key findings are available in the report for review.