Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 18, 2007

Global Maritime Data Sharing Gets $13M in Approps Bill

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Port and Maritime Security,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on December 18, 2007

Congress included $13million for the Global Trade Exchange within the spending bill sent to the Senate last night. GTX is the third phase of an effort to bring better security and system visibility to the global maritime shipping supply chains. The bill reads as follows:

$13,000,000 shall be used to procure commercially available technology in order to expand and improve the risk-based approach of the Department of Homeland Security to target and inspect cargo containers under the Secure Freight Initiative and the Global Trade Exchange.

The Department issued an RFQ (thumbnail below) for this effort last week. Criticism of the effort usually revolves around the opaque nature in which it has evolved. Private sector operators whose information would theoretically populate a central data exchange express concern over the potential imposition on their supply chains that would come without sufficient benefit to their operations.


GTX has the potential to become a game-changing new dynamic between the public and private sector. However, much remains to be revealed in terms of the anticipated concept of operations that would create the appropriate mix of incentives to support private sector involvement. It is conceivable that if such a ConOps is crafted – including data privacy assurances, a durable governance framework, and shared risk, among other things – the kind of transparency that could be brought to the global maritime trade domain may generate a great advantage for our Homeland Security efforts to identify threats and for our maritime economic operators to identify and mitigate disruptions to their supply chains.

Singapore is now the seventh international port to join an effort to test scanning capabilities geared toward preventing radioactive material from being smuggled via U.S.-bound shipping containers. Integrated scanning for these purposes includes radiation detection and X-ray imaging of 100 percent of maritime cargo headed to the U.S.

This effort, part of the Secure Freight Initiative run jointly by DHS, Energy, and State, is in response to a Congressional mandate included in the SAFE Port Act. Other recently announced ports that signed up include Port Qasim (Pakistan), Puerto Cortés (Honduras), and the Port of Southampton (UK).

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