ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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TSA Focuses Attention on Security Efforts for Land and Sea

Standards contribute to security in transportation processes and information exchange

New York, Jan 16, 2003

In a speech yesterday to transportation officials in Washington, DC, James M. Loy, chief of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), announced a renewed TSA focus on securing our nation’s highways, railways, ports and pipelines. The launch of a number of targeted pilot programs this year will coordinate with other agencies that oversee these areas of transportation.

One of the proposed pilot programs will begin at ports in Miami this year to screen cruise ship passengers' luggage at an off-site location before those passengers board airplanes. Loy said the agency is launching a national program on intermodal preparedness for terrorism, a program under which the TSA would work with local and state agencies to develop response drills in the event of a terrorist attack.

Born out of a demand for intensified security efforts after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the TSA has contributed immensely to improvements in airport security. In March, the activities of the TSA, currently under direction of the Transportation Department, will fall under the jurisdiction of the new Homeland Security Department.

Coinciding with Loy’s announcement, the General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report that cited air cargo that is placed in the belly of commercial airplanes as one area in transportation security that remains a major loophole. The report recommended that the TSA develop an air cargo security plan, with specific deadlines to increase inspections of cargo, background checks on workers who pack and ship goods and scanning for explosives.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and accredited standards developer ASTM International contributes to transportation safety with ASTM F792-01e2, Standard Practice for Evaluating the Imaging Performance of Security X-Ray Systems. This practice applies to X-ray based screening systems used in the scanning for prohibited items such as weapons, explosives, and explosive devices in baggage, packages, cargo, or mail.

The TSA now scans most checked passenger luggage for explosives by sophisticated machines, but very few cargo shipments that are put on planes are scanned. A TSA spokesperson declined to comment on whether the agency plans to scan cargo for explosives.

Along with the monitoring of cargo, the transportation industry is dependent on the efficient exchange of information among many participants. Homeland security efforts in the United States (and governments in other nations) specifically require the exchange of information concerning the safety of personnel and the environment, as well as the rapid analysis of transportation data to identify potential security risks.

A recently published Publicly Available Specification (PAS) – a normative document representing the consensus within a working group of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – may help to address the secure exchange of information in the area of Ships and Marine Technology -- Data transfer standard for maritime, intermodal transportation and security (ISO/PAS 16917:2002). The purpose of ISO/PAS 16917:2002 is to facilitate the efficient transfer of data between various organizations involved with maritime and intermodal transportation and security. According to the PAS, the need to exchange data relative to cargo, ship, intermodal transport, and port security gives urgency to the establishment of an applicable data-transfer standard.

According to ANSI Chairman Dr. George Arnold, “Globally-relevant standards and conformance assessment systems promote economic prosperity and trade and help to keep the world’s citizens safe.”

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