More U.S. agencies agree to intel-sharing on import compliance
The Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center, led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has expanded its size and the scope of its import enforcement mission with the recent addition of three federal agencies. The development marks another step toward President Barack Obama's administration's vision of clearing goods and people across the border in a seamless manner as one U.S. government rather than pushing transactions through a series of agencies with overlapping jurisdictions.
CBP said Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have agreed to participate in the joint operations center, which is designed to coordinate enforcement of import regulations.
The CTAC combines resources and specialists from CBP and 11 other agencies so they can conduct risk assessments of goods coming into the country, easily share information and make quick determinations about imports that should receive extra scrutiny. Other agencies co-located at the CTAC include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The CTAC was originally set up in 2010 in reaction to a series of unsafe products, including toothpaste from China, that had entered the United States and posed a health threat to consumers. Many agencies, such as the CPSC, don't have sophisticated systems or the personnel to efficiently conduct trade enforcement. Signing on to participate in the CTAC gives these agencies access to CBP's automated targeting system that sifts through data for security and customs anomalies by comparing it to predetermined criteria. New criteria related to each agency's regulatory requirements is loaded into the system to help narrow down potential non-compliant shipments.
The mission of the CTAC has expanded from import safety to encompass other border management goals, such as conservation of species.
"Working side-by-side fosters a collaborative environment that is conducive
to increased information sharing and enhanced relationships between key agency
personnel,” Gil Kerlikowske, CBP's new commissioner, said in a statement.
“Responding to the very real challenges of globalization as supply chains
become more complex is a top priority for the FDA,” FDA Commissioner
Margaret Hamburg, added. “Partnering with U.S. Customs and Border
Protection is an important mechanism that helps to identify shipments of food
and medical products at our border that may pose a threat to the health of the
American public. It also provides the opportunity to collaborate with
other federal agencies in a novel information-sharing environment to ensure
consumers that the products they use are safe, effective and of the highest
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