CBP is focused on getting through a backlog of CTPAT revalidations that were originally scheduled to be performed in 2020 according to Manual Garza, CTPAT director at CBP’s Office of Field Operations, on a call with members of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America on Feb. 3.
Approximately 3,400 validations were scheduled to take place in 2020. CBP performed 700 validations in 2020. The agency’s plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, CBP will focus on performing remote revalidations of low and medium risk CTPAT members. High-risk members including new applicants will most likely not be validated in 2020.
CBP has been working out the kinks in its remote validations, many related to agency and company firewalls preventing access to video calls on Microsoft Teams. CBP will also use WebEx for the validations, Garza said. The remote validations are approximately three to four hours to verify documentation on policies and procedures that each CTPAT member will have already sent to CBP. Companies will be notified by their CBP Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSS) to schedule a date to perform the validation.
The remote validation process has been a positive for CBP when it comes to longtime CTPAT members that the agency already trusts. The virtual process has drastically reduced the amount of logistical planning that goes into CTPAT validations, including scheduling, travel, hotels and rental cars. “This makes it a lot easier because we don’t have to go anymore,” Garza said.
Many of the CTPAT Minimum Security Criteria (MSC) are “very flexible,” and should present no problem to customs brokers who are now working remotely due to the pandemic. Garza said that in his previous role as a SCSS, long before COVID-19 pandemic mitigation measures, he personally validated CTPAT members from their own homes when that was their place of business. Homes have locks on their doors, and home computers have cybersecurity protections, he said. Supply chain specialists will understand the situation, and there “will be workarounds,” Garza said.