At the recent U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) west coast trade symposium, a panel titled “Global Innovation,” which included representatives from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Science and Technology, CBP’s National Targeting Center [It is not clear if this is one or two organizations.] discussed innovations in software applications and data usage that enhance supply chain security.
One question raised by the panel was, what would a future port look like? The question I raised, in return, was what will a future CBP officer look like? The question remained unanswered, but is one that needs to be considered seriously.
As CBP continues to seek and use innovative technologies, it is the officer who needs to understand the technology as it will serve as his/her partner in both the agency’s enforcement and facilitation missions. Ultimately, the officer will need to become a savvy data analyst.
In addition, the operational personnel, i.e., Customs and Border Protection officers, import specialists, and trade analysts must be grounded in a solid understanding of the import and export dynamics of international trade. This includes production, sourcing, and logistics trends.
In order to be able to maximize the use of available technology, strategic and critical thinking skills must be in the officer’s tool box. Being able to identify, address and prioritize problems will be essential. The days of continuing to focus on low-hanging fruit that fails to bring positive returns to both the agency and the trade community will be over.
The mere accessing of data is a waste of time if the ability to evaluate it does not exist. Effective evaluation is critical to enabling supervisors and managers to make decisions on the optimal deployment of limited resources.
In general, the officer must be flexible and nimble as global trade trends shift along with the potential risk. Continuing to hold onto historic trends and patterns will only cause the officer to be reactive, instead of proactive, as new challenges emerge. In addition, quick communication by analysts to officers at the port is vital. There is nothing worse than acting on inaccurate or old data. If your efforts do not produce results you must swiftly react to make necessary adjustments.
Corporate compliance officers need to have the same skills and approaches to be effective and provide a value-added service across company operations.