May 2, 2007 2:00 PM, EDT

TIA Says Customs to Expedite Request for Logistics Firms to Join C-TPAT

By Dan Leone, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the April 30 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Third-party logistics providers might get included in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to a briefing at a meeting of freight brokers here.

“We recently met with CBP people, and [they] have agreed to accelerate the inclusion of 3PLs in the [C-TPAT] program,” said Earl Eisenhart, director of government affairs for the Transportation Intermediaries Association.

Introduced in 2002 to increase security for the high volume of trade with Canada and Mexico, the C-TPAT program allows companies involved in such commerce to re-duce inspections and wait times at the border by bringing their security practices in line with CBP guidelines and submitting a “supply-chain security profile” to the agency.

Richard Gluck, TIA’s general counsel, cautioned that even with CBP’s stated intentions it still could be some time before logistics firms are actually certified under the program.

“Right now, Customs and Border Protection isn’t even accepting applications” from 3PLs, Gluck said. Once logistics companies are al-lowed to apply, it still would take time for CBP to certify their security practices and more time for the agency to clear them for participation in the program.

Gluck told Transport Topics that inclusion in the Customs program would be a benefit for TIA members. Not being able to participate in C-TPAT “hurts [3PLs] because our customers [sometimes] require the certification,” he said.

Gluck added that including logistics providers would likely be a boon for other program participants, because 3PLs are “essentially in the business of screening carriers.”
Gluck said CBP has revoked C-TPAT certification from about 150 companies for failing to verify the security practices of the motor carriers with which they do business.

Motor, rail, air and ocean carriers already are allowed to apply for C-TPAT certification, as are port operators and customs brokers.

The SAFE Port Act, signed into law last year by President Bush, mandated that “[freight] forwarders [and] contract logistics providers,” among others, should be eligible to participate in C-TPAT.

Eisenhart said it is likely 3PLs were not allowed to apply because when CBP “started C-TPAT, they first certified those [service providers] they were most familiar with,” such as carriers and customs brokers.

“It has taken us four years to get to this point,” Robert Voltmann, president of TIA, told members of the trade group during his state of the association address. “We will not let up until we are successful.”