Earlier this year, Congress passed the SAFE (Security and Accountability for Every) Port Act, which had a profound effect on events at a critical stage in the global retail supply chain. The ultimate goal of the act is to prevent threats from reaching the United States, to track and protect containers en route here, and to harden security at U.S. ports.
Among other things, the SAFE Port Act calls for partnership between the U.S. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and the private sector to establish transparency in the supply chain, enhance security measures, and encourage greater information sharing. It relies on the DHS to conduct research and testing on technology integration, access control, and data sharing capabilities for port security.
RILA, NRF Lobby For You
The original bill called for 100% of containers entering U.S. ports to be scanned for radiation. The SCSC (Supply Chain Security Coalition), a private sector lobby group that counts the NRF (National Retail Federation) and RILA (Retail Industry Leaders Association) as members, successfully pushed for this provision to be removed from the final measure. The resulting legislation marks a major win for both the security of our country and the efficiency of retail supply chains. Instead of a laborious and time-consuming attempt at scanning every container (which, according to the SCSC, called for the deployment of unproven technology), the act calls for improvement on the risk-based cargo screening approach the DHS has enforced since its inception in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. The SCSC also played a role in lobbying for the act to retain a focus on contingency planning for business continuity and restoration in the event of a terrorist attack.
Despite the SCSC’s success, retailers would be foolish to breathe a collective sigh of relief that time to market won’t suffer at the hands of port security. Consider that there are currently more transportation and maritime cargo security bills moving through the Senate. Like the SAFE Port Act, these bills, if enacted, will impact global trade and, subsequently, your supply chain. That’s why you should get involved in RILA, the NRF, or both to ensure your voice is heard. These groups have been successful in acting as the industry’s voice of reason on port security. But without input from and the support of the retail industry, supply chain slowdowns and complications just may become byproducts of this increasingly legislated aspect of global commerce.