Wanted: Firms to evaluate cargo-screening technologies

The Transportation Security Administration is seeking more companies to participate in its Air Cargo Screening Technology pilot program that will evaluate the effectiveness of cargo-screening technologies.

TSA is testing the equipment and processes as it works to meet deadlines for an air cargo screening system laid out in a law passed in 2007. That statute required TSA to establish a system to screen 50 percent of all cargo transported on passenger aircraft by Feb. 3, 2009, and 100 percent of that cargo by Aug. 3, 2010.

TSA's objectives for the pilot program are to determine abilities to screen high volumes of cargo, test chain of custody procedures and to measure the effectiveness of screening technologies on various commodity classes, the agency said.

On Nov. 28, TSA issued its second broad agency announcement that invited companies to participate in a program that will test TSA-recommended screening technologies such as Advanced Technology X-Ray and Explosive Trace Detection tools. The first announcement was issued in February and some companies have volunteered to participate.

To meet the eventual requirement of 100 percent screening, TSA is designing a program called the Certified Cargo Screening Program that will focus on key supply chain participants to employ security measures. Each participant in the voluntary program will be required to demonstrate compliance with increased security standards for information technology, personnel, procedures and facilities.

To participate, companies must become a Certified Cargo Screening Facility (CCSF). For the pilot, TSA is looking for additional CCSFs that are indirect air carriers -? or organizations that do not have a certificate to serve as an air carrier themselves but that engage indirectly in the air transportation of property by using a passenger air carrier.

To participate in the pilot, companies will also need to be located within 25 miles of one of 18 major high-volume airports and meet certain volume requirements.

Participants will get TSA funds to purchase or lease the screening tools but will also be responsible for covering the costs of training employees, the agency said.

The deadline for applying is Dec. 29.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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