Monday, September 5, 2011

CBP Works to Create a "Unified" Border Strategy

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was launched on March 1, 2003, with the goal of better protecting the United States' land, air and sea ports-of-entry. This was less than two years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and not long after the Department of Homeland Security was created.

Prior to the CBP, there were three different directors running a single port of entry and the directors came from three different agencies residing within the Departments of Treasury, Justice and Agriculture.

The creation of CBP was a way to bring the functions of each director under one border agency. However, CBP Assistant Commissioner of Field Operations Thomas Winkowski said moving the employees and functions under the CBP umbrella took a lot of persistence and a strong sense of mission.

Winkowski spoke at a roundtable on border security developments since Sept. 11, 2001.

"The creation of Customs and Border Protection...has enabled us to have a unified border management strategy," said Winkowski. "We've played a leadership role in creating an organization and changing a culture in an organization, from three different departments with three different ways of looking at borders to... the culture of a single border agency."

Winkowski said that CBP has created a number of national security reforms including a National Targeting Center. The Center works to identify high-risk air travelers before they enter the United States and coordinates with other government agencies.

In addition, CBP has increased screening for ocean cargo that is bound for the United States. "We know 24 hours prior to cargo being laden on a vessel overseas what that cargo is, where it's going, where it's been, who the consignee is and all the other information that we need," said Winkowski.

CBP has agents stationed in more than thirty countries to make screening and other initiatives possible.