Lawmakers seek GAO analysis of port security standards

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Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) recently petitioned the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study inconsistencies in cargo screening standards at U.S. ports that have halted service at Michigan’s Port of Monroe.

The lawmakers maintain that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Detroit Field Office has restricted the Port from accepting international break bulk cargo unless the Port invests in screening technology and infrastructure upgrades at their own expense.

“We have received reports that CBP is not applying a consistent standard at ports of entry across the United States for screening requirements for non-containerized cargo, including for ports in Michigan,” Peters and Walberg wrote. “CBP’s inconsistent approach gives a strategic advantage to some ports while placing burdensome infrastructure requirements on other ports, such as demands from CBP to purchase expensive scanning equipment that is provided by the federal government at other points of entry.”

The SAFE Port Act and other federal regulations currently outline specific requirements for incoming containerized cargo. However, the requirements lack clear outlined standards for non-containerized cargo.

Federal regulations mandate 100 percent scanning for incoming containerized cargo, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the implementation deadline multiple times.

The lawmakers have asked GAO to examine whether the standards are being equally enforced at different ports across the country, and how they apply to different types of cargo.