Dept. of Homeland Security: A primer

The newest member of the President’s Cabinet is the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). With 22 agencies and 170,000 federal employees, it will have significant impact on the trucking industry. Border & Transportation Security (BTS) is the agency's largest directorate and is responsible for maintaining the security of U.S. borders and transportation systems. BTS includes the Transportation Security

The newest member of the President’s Cabinet is the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). With 22 agencies and 170,000 federal employees, it will have significant impact on the trucking industry.

Border & Transportation Security (BTS) is the agency's largest directorate and is responsible for maintaining the security of U.S. borders and transportation systems. BTS includes the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs Service, the border security functions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

The trucking industry will be most affected by the actions and proposals of BTS, especially in the area of border crossings procedures, foreign carrier regulations and safety, cargo manifest rules, agriculture and animal hauling regulations and driver identification. The trucking industry will become familiar with Under Secretary for Border & Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson.

Information Analysis & Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) is responsible for protecting the nation’s infrastructure, including telecommunications and computer networks, the interstate highway system, bridges, tunnels and other conveyances used by trucks. This directorate mainly assesses intelligence information, recognizes threats, issues warnings and takes preventative and protective actions.

Emergency Preparedness & Response (EPR) will ensure that the nation is prepared and able to recover from terrorist attacks and natural disasters. This includes repairing and rebuilding highways, bridges, terminals, warehouses and other facilities.

Science & Technology (S&T) division will coordinate the Dept. of Homeland Security’s efforts in research and development to prepare and respond to terrorist threats and weapons of mass destruction. This includes studying technology applicable to truck location, truck safety, driver biometrics, cargo security and detection of weapons inside trucks.

Management directorate is an administrative department responsible for budget, management and personnel issues in DHS.

In addition to these five directorates, other agencies are being folded into DHS, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services – both of which report directly to the Sec. of Homeland Security – and the U.S. Secret Service, whose primary job is presidential protection.

Trucking should be especially interested in the port rules and regulations announced by the Coast Guard, which affect container shipments and port entry by truckers.

Also of interest to trucking is the Office of Private Sector Liaison, which will provide the business community with a direct line of communication to the Dept. of Homeland Security. The office hopes to build a relationship with industry and trade associations to discuss challenges faced by companies in the age of terrorist threats.

Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, was former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), where he served the first indictments of known terrorists for drug trafficking.

During Hutchinson's tenure, DEA targeted the Arellano Felix Organization, purported to be Mexico's most powerful and violent drug trafficking group, leading to the arrest of its head, Benjamin Arellano Felix. Hutchinson was elected to the House of Representatives three times, where he served on the House Judiciary Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Prior to his election to the Congress in 1996, Hutchinson practiced law in Arkansas, and was appointed U.S. Attorney for Western Arkansas.

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